Sun columnist Kelvin MacKenzie leaves The Sun 'by mutual consent' after comparing footballer to gorilla
Former editor initially suspended over 'racist' comments about Everton midfielder Ross Barkley
Kelvin MacKenzie has had his contract with The Sun "terminated by mutual consent".
It follows criticism over an opinion piece in which he compared the Everton midfielder Ross Barkley to a gorilla.
Parent company News UK announced its decision to part company with the tabloid's one-time editor, whose column led to a printed apology.
Mr MacKenzie told the Press Association he would "refuse to allow" the controversy to tarnish his decades working with the newspaper, adding there were "plenty of opportunities out there".
A News UK spokeswoman said: "Further to our statement on 15 April that Kelvin MacKenzie's services as a columnist for The Sun were suspended, we can confirm that Mr MacKenzie's column will not return to The Sun and his contract with News Group Newspapers has been terminated by mutual consent."
The opinion piece featured a photograph of a gorilla's eyes below a close-up of Barkley, whose grandfather was born in Nigeria.
A storm of criticism followed, which saw Everton bar The Sun's reporters from its stadium and Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson report Mr MacKenzie to the police for "racial slurs".
MacKenzie said: "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'.
"I did try to book a room at the 'Where Did It All Go Wrong?' rest home, but they had all been taken by Labour MPs."
The columnist was suspended from The Sun shortly after the column was published and a story headlined Ross Barkley: Sun Apology followed.
Mr MacKenzie had written: "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.
Sorry to share the Sun but it is important for people to see just how despicable the publshed Mackenzie article is. pic.twitter.com/5X0l9qlEQl— Joe Anderson (@mayor_anderson) April 14, 2017
"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."
The article came on the eve of the 28th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster in which 96 Liverpool fans died.
Mr MacKenzie's departure from the newspaper follows a career chequered with controversy.
He was editor of The Sun when it published a front-page article headlined Hillsborough: The Truth in the aftermath of the 1989 disaster at Sheffield Wednesday's football stadium.
The article claimed Liverpool fans were to blame for the tragedy.
Mr MacKenzie apologised in 2012, but many shops in the city still refuse to stock the title.
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
Independent News Service