PCC rules on Moir’s Gately column

February 18, 2010

The press watchdog has rejected a complaint over a controversial Daily Mail article which described the death of gay Boyzone singer Stephen Gately as not “natural” and “more than a little sleazy.”

Singer Gately, 33, died in Majorca last October and a post mortem concluded that his death was caused by fluid on the lungs.

Mail columnist Jan Moir, in an article headlined “A strange, lonely and troubling death,” wrote that something was “wrong with the way this incident has been shaped and spun.”

“Whatever the cause of death, it is not, by any yardstick, a natural one,” she wrote.

Moir’s article sparked a furious response and a record 25,000 people, including Gately’s civil partner Andrew Cowles, contacted the Press Complaint’s Commission, with some arguing the piece was homophobic and had broken the law. The Crown Prosecution Service later ruled that no crime had been committed.

In its ruling, the PCC said that the article did not breach any guidelines and columnists should be allowed to air their views, however contentious.

PCC Director Stephen Abell said: “In the end, the Commission, while not shying away from recognising the flaws in the article, has judged that it would not be proportionate to rule against the columnist’s right to offer freely expressed views about something that was the focus of public attention.”

What do you think of the PCC’s ruling? Should action have been taken, or should columnists be “able to offend” without fear of censorship?

One comment

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The PCC ruling is correct!

If journalists were not allowed to report stories that offend some people then many reports would just not be publishable. If the person who had died had been an MP, or even worse a banker, I’m sure that the PCC would not have been called into action and the story would have been heralded as “in the public interest”.

This is another case of a vocal minority wanting to impose their views on the common people and control the media.

Posted by MikeH | Report as abusive