A second point of interest today about former Sun editor turned columnist Kelvin MacKenzie (the first was a tale about him joining Marco Pierre White’s latest ITV reality fest).
This one is altogether more peculiar as it sees him use his column to jump to the defence of Lib Dem MP Mark Oaten.
Displaying a compassionate side that was rarely apparent during his tenure at the helm of The Sun, MacKenzie has today accused Channel 4 of ‘nastiness’towards Oaten.
Oaten was forced to resign his position as Lib Dem home affairs spokesperson after a sex scandal involving male prostitutes was broken by the Sun’s sister paper, the News of the World, in 2006.
He has now been engaged by Channel 4 to live in a tower block in Dagenham, East London, to experience a less attractive side of life for a TV documentary series.
MacKenzie wrote (there isn’t a link because the column isn’t put online) today:
‘I have met Mr Oaten and he was never tough enough to put up with some of the scum on this estate.
‘Some youngsters turned on him, asking among other things if he had Aids. Mr Oaten couldn’t take this humiliation, and literally broke down sobbing and lay on the ground.
‘So what did Channel 4 do? Stop filming? Of course not. They clapped hands. This is what they had waited for. Baftas here we come.
‘They used that shot to promote the filmâ€¦
‘Now that a new management is taking over [at Channel 4] can I hope that the folk behind this piece of nastiness will be identified and thrown out?
‘As a first step they should cut out the sobbing scene and perhaps the whole programme as a show of goodwill.
‘Or I would be prepared to see it go out if the entire Channel 4 management should announce their own sexuality on their websiteâ€¦I don’t wish these people well.”
Has the Mac gone soft? MacKenzie is not someone known for his delicate treatment of others.
Asked to describe is writing style in a 2006 Press Gazette interview he said: “Cruel, which is occasionally fucking nasty. Vile.”
As an editor MacKenzie once published a story claiming that Elton John had removed the larynx of his guard dogs because they were keeping him up at night, and untrue kiss-and-tell rentboy allegations – which led to a reported £1m libel settlement.