It turned out last week that Kelvin MacKenzie's hurried & unscheduled appearance on BBC TV's Question Time programme was occasioned by the sudden illness of historian David Starkey. MacKenzie, who ignominiously chickened out of appearing on the programme before Christmas, stepped into the breach, presumably thinking that the coast was clear. Not quite.
The programme is still available to watch online (http://www.bbc.co.uk/questiontime ).
It wasn't until the final ten minues of the programme that host David Dimbleby raised the issue with MacKenzie.
MacKenzie, being the pathetic coward that he is, suddenly retreated from two of the three claims which he has hitherto maintained. He admitted that he had no way of knowing if the allegations regarding the looting of the bodies & the urinating on police officers were true. Desperately trying to save face, MacKenzie did, however, say that the claim that most of the fans were ticketless still applied. It's been said before but it bears repeating. The allegation that MacKenzie clings to was disproven by The Taylor Report.
MacKenzie then went further than was probably wise by qouting his "sources", an unnamed Liverpool news agency, a senior police officer with the South Yorkshire force & a Sheffield Tory MP. On the first of the three, the only news agency based in Liverpool at the time of the disaster was Mercury Press. The managing editor of Mercury said on BBC Radio Merseyside on Friday that they completely denied the claim & were taking legal advice. The second "source" was found to be Chief Superintendant David Duckinfield, whose brief on that fateful day was, yes, you've guessed it, crowd control. Duckinfield admitted to the Taylor Inquiry that when his junior officers were trying to deal with the growing crowd outside the stadium, he "froze". Duckinfield took early retirement from the force not long after the disaster & refuses to speak to the media. The third of the three is possibly the most intriguing. The Tory MP for a Sheffield constituency was initially difficult to identify, even though a Tory in a northern city during Thatcher's reign should have stuck out like a sore thumb. I vaguely recalled a Tory MP in Sheffield from that period (I didn't get out much then), but recent Google searches yielded nothing. Now he can be named. Sir Irvine Patnick was the not so honourable member for the Sheffield Hallam constituency from 1987 to 1997. These days he is a patron of the Home Business Alliance, a body set up to support small businesses & entrepreneurs (http://www.homebusiness.org.uk ).
Patnick, let's dispense with the "Sir" bit, after all, it's just another meaningless Establishment bauble, can also be contacted through this body: firstname.lastname@example.org . There are phone & fax numbers for good measure: Tel.: 08714741015. Fax: 08714741016.
I've fired off an email, asking Patnick whether he still stands by what he told the Sun & whether he can substantiate it. You never know, he might respond, but I'm not holding my breath.