25,000 Complaints Rejected by Press Watchdog

The Press Complaints Commission was inundated with complaints last year after The Daily Mail newspaper printed an article written by Jan Moir. It followed the tragic death of Stephen Gately, the singer from the band Boyzone who passed away of natural causes at the age of 33; there were mysterious circumstances at the time, which prompted Moir to pen a blunt and insensitive article the day before Gately’s funeral. Many found the piece insulting and homophobic. Gately had been openly gay for a number of years.

A record 25,000 people, including Gately’s partner, filed complaints to the PPC in response to the article. So heavy was the influx that the PCC website crashed hours after the article was still released. The press watchdog agreed that the article contained material that was “extremely distasteful”, however this country supports free speech so it has been argued that Moir is entitled to her opinions. It was ruled by the Crown Prosecution Service that the article did not break any laws.

On the same day that this ruling was announced, Boyzone reunited for the first time since Gately’s death. He had already recorded the lead vocal for their new song “Give it All Away”, which the band performed without him. Many young people grew up listening to Boyzone’s music; their come back is appealing to those in their 20s, like many of our London escorts. That is why they were so shocked by Gately’s death, and so infuriated by Moir’s article.

Many people expected the Daily Mail or Moir herself to be reprimanded for the offending piece, but the Press Complaints Commission decided that, although the article had caused distress to Gately’s family, it had not crossed the line. Moir apologised to Gately’s family for the ill natured timing of release, but denies being homophobic. She had spoken about the “myth” of a happily ever after lifestyle in civil partnerships. Gately’s civil partner Andrew Cowes was understandably upset by the comments.

Boyzone have not yet commented on this news released today, and a spokesperson has said that they do not plan to release a statement. As some of Gately’s closest friends, they are still trying to come to terms with his death. Gately was on holiday in Majorca when he keeled over, dying on October 10th 2009. Hopefully the family can now put the negative press behind them and keep his memory untainted.