Keir Starmer accused of betraying Hillsborough victims after writing article for The Sun

Keir Starmer has been accused of “betraying” survivors of the Hillsborough disaster by members of his own party after writing an opinion piece for The Sun newspaper.

Keir Starmer has been criticised for writing for The Sun.

Sir Keir wrote an article for the newspaper’s Sunday edition criticising Boris Johnson’s handling of the supply chain crisis.

The move to write for the paper has been condemned by Labour MPs and fans’ groups in Liverpool, where The Sun has been boycotted by many for its coverage of the Hillsborough disaster in 1989. Four days after the 1989 disaster, in which 97 people died, The Sun ran an article under the headline ‘The Truth’ which included allegations that Liverpool fans had picked the pockets of the dead.

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The claim was disproved during evidence to fresh inquests into the deaths, which also found that supporters were not responsible for the tragedy. The newspaper made a front-page apology in 2012 following the publication of the Hillsborough Independent Panel report.

Liverpool West Derby MP Ian Byrne said Hillsborough survivors and families will feel “profoundly betrayed” by the party leader’s decision to write for The Sun, while Liverpool Riverside MP Kim Johnson said she has written to Sir Keir to ask him to meet families of the 97 victims.

She said: “I hope he will then understand the depth of anger and anguish across the city, the Merseyside region and beyond against this newspaper, and why we feel so betrayed today.”

Liverpool City Region mayor Steve Rotheram said: “The piece published today has unsurprisingly upset a lot of people across my region. I have been in touch with Keir to express the disappointment that I and many others feel.”

In an open letter to Sir Keir, the Spirit of Shankly Supporters’ Union said that his decision to write for the paper “demonstrates poor judgement, limited values and blatant disregard for the collective struggle against this publication” - especially given he had pledged not to speak to them during the Labour leadership campaign in 2020.

At a hustings event in Liverpool during the leadership campaign, Sir Keir said: “This city has been wounded by the media. I certainly won’t be giving any interviews to The Sun during the course of this campaign.”

Match commander David Duckenfield was cleared of gross negligence manslaughter at a retrial in November 2019, after the jury in his first trial was unable to reach a verdict.

Earlier this year, the trial of retired police officers Donald Denton and Alan Foster and former force solicitor Peter Metcalf, who were accused of perverting the course of justice following the disaster, collapsed after a judge ruled there was no case to answer.

Shadow Housing Minister Mike Amesbury said: “The decision by Keir to use the Sun for an Op Ed piece is both wrong and insensitive. Justice for the 97 is not done, the hurt for #Hillsborough families and supporters is raw.”

Among the other Labour politicians to criticise the decision to write the article was Hemsworth MP Jon Trickett. He wrote on Twitter: “Keir’s article this morning was a mistake. Of course we need to have a conversation with that paper’s readers but there are other ways.”

Sir Keir’s article in The Sun blamed Mr Johnson for the “chaos” in the supply chain and the shortage of HGV drivers. “Britain deserves better than this incompetence and total lack of leadership,” he said.

Labour has been contacted for comment.

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