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Labour MPs slam Ed Miliband for 'seriously offensive' photo op with Murdoch rag The Sun

Leader forced to apologise as party rounds on decision to pose with anti-victim newspaper 25 years after Hillsborough disaster

Labour leader Ed Miliband was forced to apologise yesterday after posing with a copy of the Sun newspaper in the year of the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster.

Mr Miliband was photographed with a special edition of the Murdoch rag being distributed free to mark the start of the England football team’s World Cup campaign.

The paper has been boycotted on Merseyside since it published appalling smears regarding the 1989 disaster in which 96 people lost their lives, accusing Liverpool fans of robbing the dead.

Prime Minister David Cameron and his deputy Nick Clegg were also pictured holding the paper.

But it was Mr Miliband’s involvement in the stunt, with his party’s close links with Liverpool, that sparked the outrage.

Many Merseyside homes did not receive one of the 22 million copies of the Sun given away this week after Liverpool postal workers refused to deliver them.

Communication Workers Union regional officer for Merseyside Carl Webb condemned Mr Miliband’s “massive error of judgement.”

He told the Morning Star: “Common sense would have told you that, particularly in the year of the 25th anniversary of Hillsborough, people would be seriously offended.

“There is still massive hurt on Merseyside. The wounds have not healed.

“People have said he was badly advised but he’s a grown man and should know what he’s doing.

“I understand that he has apologised and he should be given credit for that but it was a massive error of judgement.”

Liverpool MP Steve Rotherham was among those who confronted Mr Miliband in London on Thursday when the photo of him posting with the Sun was first posted.

The Labour leader was persuaded to issue an apology through a spokesman yesterday.

“Ed Miliband was promoting England’s bid to win the World Cup and is proud to do so,” said the spokesman.

“But he understands the anger that is felt towards The Sun over Hillsborough by many people and he is sorry to those who feel offended.”

Mr Rotherham wrote on Facebook that his party leader “never meant any offence but in my opinion it shouldn’t have happened in the first place.”

Hillsborough Family Support Group chair Margaret Aspinall said the apology was “a bit late” but criticised all three party leaders.

Ms Aspinall, whose son James died at Hillsborough, said: “Common sense should have prevailed.

“They know the families have got enough to get through right now, they know the feelings of the people — not just in Liverpool, it has spread everywhere.

“I can’t understand the insensitivity of what they have done, they didn’t show any common sense.”

The stunt was also angrily condemned by Liverpool’s Labour Mayor Joe Anderson, who said it “insults not only me but every person in the city.”

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