MacKenzie leaves the Sun following comments about Barkley

Kelvin MacKenzieImage copyright

Columnist Kelvin MacKenzie’s contract with The Sun newspaper has been “terminated by mutual consent”, the paper’s parent company has said.

It follows criticism over an opinion piece in which he compared Everton footballer Ross Barkley to a gorilla.

News UK said Mr MacKenzie, whose column on 14 April led to a printed apology, “will not return” to The Sun.

Mr Mackenzie said he would “refuse to allow” the controversy to tarnish his decades working with the newspaper.

The former Sun editor added that there were “plenty of opportunities out there”.

A News UK spokeswoman said: “Further to our statement on 15 April that Kelvin MacKenzie’s services as a columnist for The Sun were suspended, we can confirm that Mr MacKenzie’s column will not return to The Sun and his contract with News Group Newspapers has been terminated by mutual consent.”

The column featured a photograph of a gorilla’s eyes below a close-up of Barkley, whose grandfather was born in Nigeria.

In the controversy that followed, Everton FC banned Sun journalists from its stadium and Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson reported Mr MacKenzie to police for “racial slurs”.

Mr MacKenzie had written: “Perhaps unfairly, I have always judged Ross Barkley as one of our dimmest footballers.

“There is something about the lack of reflection in his eyes which makes me certain not only are the lights not on, there is definitely nobody at home.

“I get a similar feeling when seeing a gorilla at the zoo. The physique is magnificent but it’s the eyes that tell the story.”

On his departure, Mr MacKenzie said: “I refuse to allow this latest controversy to cast a shadow over the decades of great times I have had with The Sun.

“There are plenty of opportunities out there and I agree with Winston Churchill who said: ‘Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm’.”