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Gately's family deny 'booze marathon' claims

The family of Boyzone star Stephen Gately today rejected claims that he died after a marathon drinking session.

Lawyer Gerald Kean said it was wrong to suggest that the star died after eight hours boozing on the Spanish holiday island of Majorca.

Relatives of the 33-year-old Irish pop singer and actor insisted his death was a "tragic accident" and that no foul play was involved.

"An eight-hour drinking session is something we do not accept," Mr Kean said.

"Wherever that is coming from, our information would suggest that is simply wrong."

Spanish police said there were "no signs of suspicious circumstances" after Gately was found dead at his home in the resort of Port Andratx on Saturday afternoon.

Mr Kean, who was asked to act as spokesman for the family and talked to Gately's mother Margaret this morning, said the family were absolutely devastated.

He said they have been too upset to decide whether to fly out to the Mediterranean island.

The solicitor said Gately had been in the apartment with his partner, Andrew Cowles, until after midnight on Friday when he travelled to the town of Palma, about an hour's drive away.

A close family member spoke to Gately at 12.30am Spanish time on Saturday (11.30pm GMT) as he was getting ready to leave, the lawyer said.

It is understood Gately spent several hours socialising and was back in the apartment before 6am Spanish time.

"We are not saying he was not drinking but eight hours is not something we accept," Mr Kean said.

"He was a very sensible man. He enjoyed himself, he loved life. I was with him many a night and, if anything, late into nights he would look as though he had just arrived."

Police said Gately had been partying with friends a few hours before he was found dead in his apartment.

They were hoping the results of a post-mortem would shed light on exactly how he died.

A spokesman for police on the island said the examination would take place either today or tomorrow.

He said Gately's body remained in a forensics institute in Palma in the meantime.

Police refused to be drawn on whether officers were trying to trace a potential witness, a Bulgarian man who was reportedly in Gately's apartment that night, along with Gately's partner.

Mr Kean said the family have been told police are not looking to speak to anyone else in connection with the death.

Last night fellow Boyzone members Ronan Keating, Keith Duffy, Mikey Graham and Shane Lynch arrived in Majorca and spent an hour at Gately's apartment before staying up till late talking in a restaurant at the Mon Port Hotel.

The bandmates said they were left "completely devastated by the loss of our friend and brother, Stephen".

Tributes have flooded in from the music world, with Boyzone manager Louis Walsh pulling out of the X Factor live finals show, saying he was "very shocked and exceptionally upset".

Outside Gately's sea-view villa, mourners left flowers and paid tribute to the star.

One note left with flowers read: "For Stephen, God bless you, rest in peace. Although we didn't know you personally, we admired and liked you as a person, not just your talent. Sue and Dave. PS. Deepest sympathy to you Andrew."

Gately sent ripples through the pop music world 10 years ago when he announced that he was gay.

He was introduced to Mr Cowles by Sir Elton John and his partner David Furnish and the pair married in a civil union in 2006.

He joined Boyzone in 1993 after answering an advert in Dublin to audition for Ireland's first boyband.

Gately also starred in West End musicals, including Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and appeared on the ITV1 show Dancing On Ice.

He last posted a message on his Twitter page on October 6, writing: "Still busy, lots going on. Focusing on finishing my book next so may be quiet here."

Musical impresario Lord (Andrew) Lloyd Webber said Gately was "enormously talented".

Scores of devastated fans also posted tributes on the singer's Facebook page, expressing sadness and disbelief at the news of his death.

Gately was often spotted relaxing in the upmarket Cappuccino cafe and was recently seen dining with singer Chesney Hawkes in the pricey Portobello restaurant, British ex-pats recalled.

Mark Kirsch, 49, a travel agent from Bushey in Hertfordshire, who has a holiday apartment in a block near Gately's, said he was upset and shocked by the news.

"I met Stephen a couple of times," he said.

"He was a private guy who kept himself to himself. He definitely wasn't living a wild rock'n'roll lifestyle here. There were no wild parties, nothing like that at all."

Gately seemed in good health recently, he added.

Mr Kean said Gately was in very good form when relatives spoke to him on Friday night. He also said he was healthy and described him as being "in great shape".

"He really had a wonderful life. He was the most generous young man you could meet - anytime I or anyone else ever asked him to support charities or less well-off causes he did it with a smile," Mr Kean said.

"I never heard a bad word being said about him."