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20:05 | 23rd September 2017

News: UK

Thu 18 Feb, 2010
By Sam Bristowe


While many complainants considered that there was an underlying tone of negativity towards Mr. Gately and the complainant on account of the fact that they were gay, it was not possible to identify any direct uses of pejorative or prejudicial language in the article

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The Press Complaints Commission (PCC) has revealed today that they have rejected the complaints made against Jan Moir after her controversial column about the death of Stephen Gately.

Over 25,000 complaints were made after the Daily Mail columnist published her ‘Femail’ column, where she discussed the death of the Boyzone star.

Moir caused quite a stir amongst the LGBT community after she published a derogatory piece of journalism after the death of Gately. She said, ‘It is not disrespectful to assume that a game of canasta with 25-year-old Georgi Dochev was not what was on the cards.

Cowles and Dochev went to the bedroom together while Stephen remained alone in the living room…and I think if we are going to be honest, we would have to admit that the circumstances surrounding his death are more than a little sleazy.’

Stephen, 33, was found dead on October 10 in their holiday apartment in Majorca whilst holidaying with husband Andrew Cowles. The autopsy report stated the he died of natural causes which was found to be a build-up of fluid on the lungs. The death of Steven caused much controversy after Moir produced an article, where she criticised the stars gay lifestyle after it was revealed that Stephen and Andrew had invited Bulgarian model Georgi Dochev, back to the apartment the night he died.

Along with the 25,000 complaints that were made, including two police complaints, Gately’s record label Polydor made an official complaint to the PCC

Moir later produced another column apologising for her column and that it wasn’t how she intended her words to come across.

The PCC released a statement where they decided to not progress with the complaints made: "Argument and debate are working parts of an active society and should not be constrained unnecessarily,"
"While many complainants considered that there was an underlying tone of negativity towards Mr. Gately and the complainant on account of the fact that they were gay, it was not possible to identify any direct uses of pejorative or prejudicial language in the article,"

It concluded that a distinction must be drawn up to decipher "between critical innuendo which, though perhaps distasteful, was permissible in a free society – and discriminatory description of individuals, and the code was designed to constrain the latter rather than the former,"

After the two police complaints were made Scotland Yard passed the complaints on to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). They too found that there wasn’t enough evidence to follow up. According to the Associated Press, Tony Connell, CPS London complex casework lawyer, said in a statement:

"On October 16 2009 Jan Moir, a columnist with the Daily Mail, published an article in the newspaper headed A Strange, Lonely and Troubling Death ... The article dealt with the death of Stephen Gately.
"In December 2009, the Metropolitan Police passed the article and statements from two complainants to the Crown Prosecution Service to determine whether or not any crime had been committed through publication of that article.
"Having considered that material I have decided that there is insufficient evidence that any offence has been committed.
"In coming to this conclusion I have paid particular attention to Article 10 of the Human Rights Act which protects individuals' freedom of expression. It is an established legal principle that this freedom applies equally to information and ideas that are favourably received as to those which offend, shock and disturb.
"Though the complainants and many others found this article offensive, this does not make its publication unlawful."

 

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