Former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie told a Newcastle audience yesterday he had not meant his apology to Liverpool over the paper's infamous treatment of the Hillsborough Stadium disaster.
Addressing an invited audience of business people at the Centre for Life, he said he had only apologised to the people of Liverpool because Sun proprietor Rupert Murdoch had ordered him to.
It came in the wake of the Sun's report that the disaster - in which 96 people died in the 1989 FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at the Sheffield Wednesday ground - had been caused by drinking among some Liverpool supporters.
The deaths occurred when thousands of fans were crushed into a narrow space in the ground and then spilled onto the pitch.
But Mr MacKenzie insisted that he was not sorry about the way he treated the story at the time nor was he now, and said the Sun had only been reporting the truth. He said others had been saying the same thing but the Sun was attacked for its headline: `THE TRUTH'.
He went on to compare some elements in Liverpool as being "like animal rights protesters" because they had rebuffed any subsequent attempts at reconciliation by Sun owners News International.
Mr MacKenzie had been addressing the annual lunch of Newcastle law firm Mincoffs LLP.