Gately attack provokes record number of complaints

22,000 register their disgust at Daily Mail columnist's article

One newspaper article about the sudden death of the Boyzone star Stephen Gately has provoked more complaints to the press watchdog than the entire newspaper industry would normally generate in four or five years.

Another 1,000 complaints poured into the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) yesterday about comments made by the Daily Mail columnist Jan Moir. Normally, that level of reaction to one story would be a record but yesterday it was a sign that things were slowing down, after a weekend when 21,000 complaints caused the PCC website to crash.

The comedian Stephen Fry and illusionist Derren Brown, who have a million Twitter followers between them, led the online charge. Charlie Brooker, presenter of BBC4's Screenwipe, wrote a newspaper article directing readers to the PCC website.

It is unlikely that many of the 22,000 complainants are regular subscribers to the Daily Mail but they all have access to its website Mail Online, which experienced a urge of traffic after the first complaints about the Jan Moir column were posted on Twitter and Facebook.

The web measurement firm Experian Hitwise said yesterday that it had detected a 21 per cent increase in visitors to the website at the end of last week. More than 1,200 comments have been posted under Jan Moir's column, which questioned whether Gately's death, after a night out in Mallorca, was genuinely from natural causes. The Spanish police and coroner said that Gately died from an undiagnosed heart condition but Moir speculated that a more probable cause was his gay lifestyle.

She wrote: "Healthy and fit 33-year-old men do not just climb into their pyjamas and go to sleep on the sofa, never to wake up again. Whatever the cause of death is, it is not, by any yardstick, a natural one." She added that his death was a "blow to the happy-ever-after myth of civil partnerships".

The PCC has taken up the case although it has not had a complaint from Gately's family or anyone directly linked to the dead singer.

The PCC's normal policy is to act only on complaints from those directly affected by an article but it has waived the rule because of the scale of the public reaction. "It's an unprecedented number of complaints about an article. there is no two ways about that," a spokesman said.

The PCC is funded by the newspaper and magazine industry and has strong links with the industry, although it acts independently. One of its leading figures, who chairs its Code of Practice Committee, is Paul Dacre, editor of the Daily Mail . In a normal week, the commission expects the number of complaints it receives about the entire content of national and local newspapers to be in double figures. It received 4,698 in 2008.

The previous record holder for the largest number of complaints generated by a single newspaper article was the Times columnist Matthew Parris, who jokily suggested two years ago that piano wire should be placed across country lanes to decapitate cyclists. That provoked about 500 complaints to the PCC.

The Metropolitan Police confirmed yesterday that they too have received complaints about the article, alleging that it incited hatred against gays. Andrew Gilliver, from the Lesbian & Gay Foundation, one of the organisations seeking to have the Daily Mail prosecuted, said: "This offensive article has been highlighted by thousands of people as inflammatory and inciting hatred to the gay community."

Jan Moir: Her controversial opinions

*On Jade Goody, written two months after she died from cancer

"A Bermondsey dental nurse and semi-illiterate who received a beatification in death that was never hers in life"



*On Jodie Marsh "I haven't got a clue what Jodie actually does, except apply brown lip liner in a manner that suggests she's mistaken a rusty drainpipe for a didgeridoo"



*On Jacqui Smith "Smith's mad ramblings and ideals [were] forged in the hairy-armpit heat of Seventies feminism"



*On Katie Price "In 10 years or more of interviewing celebrities, I have never met anyone more unpleasant or less maternal than horrible Katie Price"



*Describing Sophia Loren's dress sense "A diaphanous chiffon-layered skirt completed the outfit, which was a nice look – for a transvestite croupier"

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Opilio Recruitment: Senior Digital Designer

£50k - 55k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: An exciting opportunity ...

Opilio Recruitment: Vertical Sales Director

Market related: Opilio Recruitment: An exciting opportunity has arisen for a...

Opilio Recruitment: Senior Sales Executive

£25k - 28k per year + OTE & Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We are currently r...

Opilio Recruitment: Account Manager

£25k - 35k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We are currently recruit...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game