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Sun's MacKenzie defiant after suspension over 'racist' article on Everton star Barkley

By Helen William and Kim Pilling

Suspended Sun columnist Kelvin MacKenzie has said it is "beyond parody" for critics to describe his controversial article about Everton footballer Ross Barkley as "racist".

News UK suspended him from the tabloid with immediate effect after Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson spoke to police about Friday's column.

England midfielder Barkley (23) has a Nigerian grandfather, which MacKenzie claimed he did not know about.

In his column on Friday, MacKenzie wrote: "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... the reality is that at £60,000 a week and being both thick and single, he is an attractive catch in the Liverpool area, where the only men with similar pay packets are drug dealers and therefore not at nightclubs, as they are often guests of Her Majesty."

Mr MacKenzie told the Press Association: "I had no idea of Ross Barkley's family background and nor did anybody else. For the mayor of Liverpool and a handful of others to describe the article as racist is beyond parody."

News UK described Mr MacKenzie's comments in his column as "wrong" and "unfunny".

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