13:06 19 October 2009
Daily Mail columnist Jan Moir's article regarding the death of Stephen Gately has drawn the biggest number of complaints ever received by the Press Complaints Commission.
The piece, published in the Daily Mail on Friday, received 21,000 complaints, the PCC has confirmed.
The commission said it would write to the Mail, urging a response even if the late boyband member's family did not make a formal complaint.
The article was published the day before the funeral of the homosexual Boyzone singer, who died on the Spanish island of Majorca.
The publication provoked an epic reaction, with widespread discussions on social networking sites, such as Twitter, which encouraged people to make a complaint. Stephen Fry was among those calling for action against piece.
Moir has defended herself, claiming suggestions of homophobia were "mischievous" and suggesting the backlash was a "heavily orchestrated internet campaign".
The PCC said: "[It was] by far the highest number of complaints ever received about a single article in the history of the Commission".
The police have also received a complaint about the article.
In the column, Moir wrote: "Healthy and fit 33-year-old men do not just climb into their pyjamas and go to sleep on the sofa, never to wake up again. Whatever the cause of death is, it is not, by any yardstick, a natural one."
Moir concluded with: "For once again, under the carapace of glittering, hedonistic celebrity, the ooze of a very different and more dangerous lifestyle has seeped out for all to see."
Columnist Janet Street-Porter was among those joining the criticism of the tone of Moir's article. Writing in Monday's Daily Mail, she said: "What exactly was bothering Jan? The fact that Stephen was gay, the fact he was in a civil partnership or the fact that he or his partner might have enjoyed sex with someone they had just met?"
Moir has responded in a statement which said: "Some people, particularly in the gay community, have been upset by my article about the sad death of Boyzone member Stephen Gately.
"This was never my intention. The point of my column was to suggest that, in my honest opinion, his death raises many unanswered questions."
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