Page last updated at 11:08 GMT, Friday, 23 October 2009 12:08 UK

Columnist defends Gately comments

Members of Boyzone at Gately's funeral
Moir admits the timing of her original Daily Mail column was "insensitive"

Jan Moir has expressed regret over her Daily Mail column on late Boyzone star Stephen Gately, while maintaining that aspects of his death were "sleazy".

But she insisted that there was nothing homophobic in the column, published on the day before the singer's funeral.

The Press Complaints Commission (PCC) received more than 21,000 complaints about the piece, which called Gately's death "strange, lonely and troubling".

"I regret any affront caused," Moir wrote in her latest Mail column.

She went on to apologise to Gately's family and friends for any distress caused by her column's "insensitive timing".

However, the writer stood by her earlier assertion that the circumstances surrounding his death were "more than a little sleazy".

She also maintained there was "nothing natural" about his demise on 11 October, but claimed her remarks have been "misinterpreted".

"What I meant by 'nothing natural' was that the natural duration of his life had been tragically shortened in a way that was shocking and out of the ordinary," she wrote.

'Over-reaction'

"Absolutely none of this had anything to do with his sexuality," she added.

"If he had been a heterosexual member of a boy band, I would have written exactly the same article."

Moir faced particular censure for suggesting that Gately's death had struck a blow to the "happy-ever-after myth of civil partnerships".

In her follow-up column, though, she insisted there was "nothing in my article that could not be applied to a heterosexual couple as well as to a homosexual one".

Stephen Gately
Gately died suddenly while on holiday in Majorca with his partner

According to the PCC, Moir's column provoked the most complaints ever made about a single newspaper article.

In Friday's Daily Mail, the writer suggested the "hysterical over-reaction" was part of "an orchestrated campaign".

Her column, she continued, was "generally and gleefully accepted into folklore as a homophobic rant".

According to Moir, she received "thousands of supportive emails" from readers who felt it "perfectly reasonable" for her to comment on Gately's death.

Celebrities, friends and family gathered in Dublin last Saturday for the singer's funeral.

Among them was X Factor judge Louis Walsh, who absented himself from the ITV1 show to attend the ceremony.

According to the show's creative director, though, Walsh will be back this weekend to resume his duties.

"Louis is definitely going to be back," said Brian Friedman. "We've been talking about his song choices and I think they're really good."



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