Watchdog rejects Gately complaints

RTE on The Late Late Show 2008 - remaking their 1993 debut

The Press Complaints Commission has rejected a compliant by Andrew Cowles, the civil partner of the late Boyzone singer Stephen Gately, about an article written by Daily Mail columnist Jan Moir.

Moir’s column was published in the paper in the immediate aftermath of Gately’s death and sparked outrage and accusations of homophobia as Moir stated there was nothing “natural” about the death.

The Press Complaints Commission has decided not to uphold a complaint about Jan Moir’s article on the death of Stephen Gately that was published in the Daily Mail. The complaint was made against Moir by the Civil Partner of the late Boyzone singer, Andrew Cowles. It followed a record 25,000 complaints made by members of the public regarding the article which had sparked outraged and accusations of homophobia. While Moir was forced to issue a statement denying she was homophobic several companies such as Marks & Spencers instructed the paper to remove any advertisements for them from the Moir page.

Stephen Gately died of natural causes in his holiday home in Majorca last October. Moir’s article was published the day before the funeral for the singer and contained many things which sparked protests. For example the writer wrote the singers death struck a blow to the “happy-ever-after myth of civil partnerships” and also added that there was nothing “natural” about the death.

Mr Cowles complained to the press watchdog that the article was inaccurate, intrusive at a time of grief and discriminatory. Although there had been 25,000 complaints from members of the public before Mr Cowles complaint the watchdog was unable to investigate the article until a member of Gately’s family themselves put in a complaint. The watchdog stated that while it understood while the article had upset Mr Cowles and members of the public and while there had been flaws within it the watchdog recognised freedom of speech.

Not only did the Moir article prompt thousands of complaints to the PCC but is also caused Twitter to go into Meltdown and questions were raised about it on the BBC topical debate show Question Time. Ironically it was the same week in which BNP leader Nick Griffin had been part of the panel on the series. The panellists argued that while the article was ill-timed Moir had a right to write and publish it because of freedom of speech.

 [Pictured: Boyzone on RTÉ’s The Late Late Show in 2008]