Liverpool

Former equalities chief backs MacKenzie over Barkley comments

Trevor Phillips, former chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Trevor Phillips served nine years as chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission

A former equalities chief has backed Kelvin MacKenzie over his comments about footballer Ross Barkley.

Mr MacKenzie was suspended by The Sun after he compared the Everton midfielder, who has a grandfather born in Nigeria, to a "gorilla".

He wrote in The Spectator that Trevor Phillips, ex-chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said Liverpool is "wallowing in victim status".

Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson said he was "hiding behind" a reputable source.

The Sun printed an apology after Mr Barkley's lawyers made a formal complaint about the comments and Merseyside Police said they were investigating whether they constitute a "racial hate crime".

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Mr MacKenzie also said men with similar "pay packets" to Barkley in Liverpool were "drug dealers".

In the article, published on 14 April, Mr MacKenzie said looking at Mr Barkley's eyes had given him a "similar feeling when seeing a gorilla at the zoo".

Alongside the article, was an image of a gorilla next to a picture of the midfielder.

Mr MacKenzie claimed he was unaware of Barkley's heritage and that it was "beyond parody" to describe the column as "racist".

Mr Phillips texted him when "the confected outrage" started over the column, Mr MacKenzie said in the column.

According to the former Sun editor, the text said: 'WTF? I have to confess I had no idea Barkley was a brother. Sad to see a great city wallowing in victim status. Unbelievable.'

Mr Phillips declined to comment further but a spokeswoman for him confirmed that Mr Mackenzie's account of the message was accurate and published with his permission.

Mr MacKenzie also said that if he had known Mr Barkley's "family tree", he "would never have made the comparison".

But he claimed readers of The Sun were "100-1 in my favour".

Commenting on the column, Mayor Anderson said: "MacKenzie's latest rant is the measure of the man. Full of self-absorbed self-justification, finding anyone to hide behind to defend his own stupidity.

"By adding ignorant racist to his list of attributes he completes his vileness and that's why I've reported him to IPSO."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ross Barkley's grandfather was born in Nigeria

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