Record complaints for Jan Moir’s Stephen Gately article

More than 22,000 complain about Daily Mail column

The Press Complaints Commission has received a record 22,000 complaints about Jan Moir’s article about Stephen Gately since Friday – more complaints in a single weekend than the regulator has received in total in the past five years.

Moir’s article
, which was published the day before Gately’s funeral in Dublin, provoked widespread outrage on the web. The original headline on the Mail Online website, ‘Why there was nothing ‘natural’ about Stephen Gately’s death’, was later amended to the print edition headline. ‘A strange, lonely and troubling death’.

Moir’s article said Gately’s death in Mallorca after a night out ‘strikes another blow to the happy-ever-after myth of civil partnerships’.

The PCC today stopped short of announcing an immediate investigation to see if its code of practice has been violated but said it would ‘consider’ the 22,000 complaints. In this case the PCC could investigate whether Moir’s article violated parts of its code that deals with intrusion into grief, accuracy, discrimination and homophobia.

Moir, who has won a British Press Award, made a statement defending her column late on Friday, saying it was not her intention to offend, blaming a ‘heavily orchestrated internet campaign‘ for the furore and adding that it was ‘mischievous in the extreme to suggest that my article has homophobic and bigoted undertones’.

The PCC said in a statement that the Gately complaints ‘follow widespread discussion of the subject on social networking sites – especially Twitter – and represent by far the highest number of complaints ever received about a single article in the history of the commission’.

In an unexpected twist, Stephen Fry expressed sympathy for Jan Moir, and what he called a ‘sorry and squalid little article’. He said: ‘The reason I feel sorry for her is not that she is a journalist, or that she writes for the Daily Mail, I am quite sure she can do without my pompous, patronising sympathy. I feel sorry for her because I know just what it is like to make a monumental ass of oneself and how hard it is to find the road back.’

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