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"

Life and Style
“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

(Junior) IT Systems Administrator / Infrastructure Analyst

£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension, 25 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A highly ...

Sales Engineer - Cowes - £30K-£40K

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Sales Engineer - Cow...

Web / Digital Analyst - Google Analytics, Omniture

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client who are a leading publisher in...

Sales Perfomance Manager. Marylebone, London

£45-£57k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice