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Anger over Mail column on Gately

16 October 09 18:20 GMT

More than 1,000 complaints have been made about a Daily Mail column on the death of singer Stephen Gately, the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) says.

The PCC said the number of complaints received about the piece by Jan Moir was "approaching a record".

Moir's article said Gately's death struck a blow to the "happy-ever-after myth of civil partnerships".

But in a statement Moir said it was "mischievous" to suggest her article had homophobic undertones.

Marks & Spencer has asked the newspaper to move an advertisement which appeared alongside the online version of the article.

The PCC said it was considering the nature of the comments it had received.

A spokesman said many of the concerns related to the perceived impact of the article on the family.

He said the PCC had sought to make contact with family representatives to establish whether they wish to make a complaint.

The article also attracted angry comments on social networking sites and blogs.

Actor Stephen Fry used his Twitter feed to discuss the article.

He wrote: "The Press Complaints Commission website is down. Sheer volume of traffic. That says something about the strength of feeling I think."

'Glamorous routine'

In her column, Moir called the Boyzone singer's death "strange, lonely and troubling".

She wrote: "The Gately family are - perhaps understandably - keen to register their boy's demise on the national consciousness as nothing more than a tragic accident."

But she continued: "Whatever the cause of death is, it is not, by any yardstick, a natural one. Let us be absolutely clear about this.

"All that has been established so far is that Stephen Gately was not murdered."

She concluded: "As a gay rights champion, I am sure he would want to set an example to any impressionable young men who may want to emulate what they might see as his glamorous routine.

"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."

'Not intentional'

In response to the complaints, the Daily Mail released a statement from Moir.

She 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."

She said the point of her column was to suggest that the death raised "many unanswered questions."

She said she was not referring to the fact of his homosexuality when writing about Gately's "glamorous routine".

She also defended her comments about civil partnerships.

She said: "I was suggesting that civil partnerships - the introduction of which I am on the record in supporting - have proved just to be as problematic as marriages."

Marks & Spencer said it "does not tolerate any form of discrimination.

"We have asked the Daily Mail to move our advertisement away from the article. This is a matter for the Daily Mail," they said.

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