MacKenzie rounds on Guardian over Dowler mistake

Former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie has said that The Sun would have come near to closure if it had made a similar mistake to the one made by The Guardian in its reporting of the Milly Dowler phone-hacking allegations.

He said: ‘Had that been The Sun, the Sun would have come very, very close to closure, to being shut down had they got that story wrong.

‘The Guardian sticks [a correction] away on page 10 and think it can get away with it. If The Sun had done that same thing, if a Rupert Murdoch title had done that same thing, don’t you think it would have been quite different?”

The Guardian has now admitted that it was wrong to state as fact that journalists working for the News of the World deleted the voicemail messages from the mobile phone account of Milly Dowler which gave her parents false hope she was alive in the days after she went missing in 2002. But it remains uncontested that the News of the World did listen to her messages at some point.

Lord Justice Leveson said: ‘I think it is interesting that you assert that The Guardian got the Milly Dowler story completely wrong.”

Leveson is in the process of reviewing the misreporting of the ‘false hope’claim and he said he has received an account from The Guardian and is awaiting one from the Met Police.

Leveson said that whatever the outcome of this investigation, there was no chance of him concluding – as has been suggested by some – that as a result the entire Leveson Inquiry wiill be deemed no longer justified.

Concluding his evidence, MacKenzie said he favoured heavy fines for news organisations which lie to the Press Complaints Commission.

‘They [the PCC] were lied to by News International and that was quite wrong and they should have a big penalty for doing that. I think you will discover that the threat of a financial penalty will have a straightforward effect on newspapers.”

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