UPDATE: Kelvin MacKenzie has since been suspended by The S*n over his column and News UK have apologised for any offence caused
Merseyside Police have confirmed they are investigating an allegation that a column by Kelvin MacKenzie in the S*n constitutes a hate crime.
In his column MacKenzie, published on Friday morning, compared Ross Barkley - whose grandfather is Nigerian - to a gorilla in a zoo.
MacKenzie also said Barkley was “thick” and deserved to be punched in a Liverpool night club last week.
“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.”
.@Everton Your lack of action in banning the S*n from your press conferences is a smack in the face to our City,see below&act now #JFT96 ❤️ pic.twitter.com/wHFi28RLk5— Joe Anderson (@mayor_anderson) April 14, 2017
The paper also ran a picture of a gorilla alongside that of Barkley, an image which has since been removed from the website.
MacKenzie also launched an extraordinary tirade against the people of Liverpool, saying men with similar pay packets to Barkley are drug dealers in prison.
Kelvin Mackenzie still doing what he does well; being a twat.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) April 14, 2017
Everton Fc show some class and some balls ban the sun— Neville Southall (@NevilleSouthall) April 14, 2017
MacKenzie is no stranger to the people of Liverpool. He was the editor of the S*n in 1989 when the paper published a front page article about the Hillsborough disaster headlined “The Truth”.
The article wrongly blamed the Liverpool fans for the disaster, in which 96 fans died. Mackenzie apologised for the article 23 years later in 2012.
Last year the Hillsborough inquests ruled that the 96 fans were unlawfully killed and supporters played no role in the deaths.
Those comments about Ross Barkley, a young working class lad are disgusting. Then add in the fact he is mixed race! It's becomes outrageous.— Joseph Barton (@Joey7Barton) April 14, 2017
Kelvin MacKenzie's comments are reprehensible - as ever.— Henry Winter (@henrywinter) April 14, 2017
The column has understandably drawn a furious reaction, with Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson calling for Everton to ban the S*n from Goodison Park and Finch Farm.
Liverpool banned S*n journalists from Anfield and Melwood earlier this year.
Gary Lineker, Neville Southall, Joey Barton and journalists Henry Winter and David Conn have also condemned the column, published the day before the 28th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster.