Mackenzie overboard as Murdoch vessel heads unsteadily towards Sky

Will anyone miss Kelvin Mackenzie? The long-serving Rupert Murdoch ally (below) has had his post as Sun columnist terminated “by mutual consent” following his comparison of Everton’s Ross Barkley to a gorilla.

News UK has also sold its shareholding in Mackenzie’s A Spokesman Said business and turfed him out of its London Bridge HQ.

Mackenzie says: “I refuse to allow this latest controversy to cast a shadow over the decades of great times I have had with the Sun. There are plenty of opportunities out there and I agree with Winston Churchill, who said: ‘Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.’”

The old controversialist does have a way with words. He once fired the Sun’s astrologer thus: “As you will already know..”

Murdoch’s right hand woman Rebekah Brooks, one of Mackenzie’s successors as editor of the Sun and no stranger to controversy either, will be pleased to be rid of the unruly septuagenarian. Murdoch will have his regrets but his Fox company is trying to buy the 61 per cent of Sky it doesn’t currently own and doesn’t need any more scandals. Fox News in the US is mired in a string of sexual harassment/hush money allegations.

The UK’s Ofcom broadcast regulator, trying to assess whether or not the Murdochs (sons James and Lachlan hold key positions in the business) are “fit and proper” to run a big British broadcaster, is known to be unimpressed by this. Murdoch’s last effort to buy Sky foundered because of the phone hacking scandal at his now defunct News of the World.

So the Murdochs are in trouble and it’s no surprise that loyal retainer Mackenzie has chosen to fall on his sword (before it fell on him).

Would a Tory government have the cojones to stop them buying Sky? If Theresa May wins the General Election it would be a brave man or woman who volunteered to be Culture Secretary, the person who’d have to pass on the bad news. A job for Boris Johnson, currently the UK’s risible Foreign Secretary?

As for Mackenzie he’ll doubtless be back, to amuse and infuriate in more or less equal measure. Not as court jester to the Murdochs though.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.