Kelvin MacKenzie loses contract with The Sun newspaper

The Sun's former editor and high-profile columnist Kelvin MacKenzie has lost his contract with the paper following a racism row over an opinion piece in which he compared mixed-race footballer Ross Barkley to a gorilla.

The paper's owner News UK said that Mr MacKenzie's column had been "terminated by mutual consent".

Mr MacKenzie had been suspended for a month following an outcry over his column and had been widely expected to lose his position.

Mr MacKenzie had faced fury over the April 14 column in which he described the mixed-race Everton and England midfielder as "like a gorilla at the zoo" and described him as "one of our dimmest footballers".

The column was also illustrated with a photograph of a gorilla's eyes below a close-up of the eyes of Mr Barkley.

Mr MacKenzie said he would "refuse to allow" the controversy to tarnish his decades working with the newspaper, adding there were "plenty of opportunities out there".

Kelvin MacKenzie was accused of using 'racial slurs' against Ross Barkley. Credit: PA

The piece prompted an immediate storm of anger, with the Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson reporting Mr MacKenzie to the police for "racial slurs" against Barkley, whose whose grandfather was born in Nigeria.

Mr MacKenzie was suspended from The Sun shortly after the column was published and published an apology offering a personal retraction to Mr Barkley.

For his part, Mr MacKenzie insisted that he was unaware of the footballer's family background when he wrote the column and claimed much of the criticism was "beyond parody".

Speaking after his final exit from the newspaper was confirmed he said he would not allow the controversy to overshadow 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'," he added.

Kelvin MacKenzie said he would not allow his exit to overshadow his history at The Sun. Credit: PA

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 wrongly 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.