Stephen Gately article attracts record number of PCC complaints

Columnist Jan Moir's article about the death of Stephen Gately has drawn the biggest number of complaints ever received by the Press Complaints Commission, it said today.

The piece, published in the Daily Mail on Friday, prompted 21,000 complaints, the PCC said.

The commission said it would write to the Mail for a response even if Gately's family did not make a formal complaint.

The article was published the day before the funeral of the gay Boyzone singer, who died on the Spanish island of Majorca.

It sparked a furious reaction, with widespread discussions on social networking sites, such as Twitter, which encouraged people to make a complaint. Stephen Fry was among those mobilising action.

Moir has Stephen Gately article attracts record number of PCC complaints Stephen Gately article attracts record number of PCC complaints defended herself, claiming suggestions of homophobia were "mischievous" and suggesting the backlash was a "heavily orchestrated internet campaign".

The PCC said today that it was "by far the highest number of complaints ever received about a single article in the history of the Commission".

The PCC said it generally requires the involvement of "directly-affected parties" in its investigations. It has already been in contact with Boyzone's representatives, who are in touch with the family.

But the PCC said if they did not wish to complain, it would "in any case write to the Daily Mail for its response to the more general complaints from the public before considering whether there are any issues under the code (of practice) to pursue".

Police have also received a complaint about the article.

In the column, Moir 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."

And she signed off: "For once again, under the carapace of glittering, hedonistic celebrity, the ooze of a very different and more dangerous lifestyle has seeped out for all to see."

Columnist Janet Street-Porter was among those joining the criticism of the tone of Moir's article.

Writing in today's Daily Mail, she said: "What exactly was bothering Jan? The fact that Stephen was gay, the fact he was in a civil partnership or the fact that he or his partner might have enjoyed sex with someone they had just met?"

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