A Daily Mail column by writer Jan Moir has provoked a storm of anger on the internet for apparently suggesting that Boyzone singer Stephen Gately died because he was gay.
Gately was found dead in a Majorca apartment last weekend. Post mortem examination results show he died from natural causes.
Hundreds of people have contacted the Press Complaints Commission over the article, while the Daily Mail appears to have removed advertisements from the column’s web page.
Moir wrote today: “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.
“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.”
She also drew comparisons between Gately and Kevin McGee, the former civil partner of Matt Lucas, despite Gately dying of natural causes and McGee committing suicide after months of depression and addiction.
She wrote: “Another real sadness about Gately’s death is that it strikes another blow to the happy-ever-after myth of civil partnerships. Gay activists are always calling for tolerance and understanding about same-sex relationships, arguing that they are just the same as heterosexual marriages. Not everyone, they say, is like George Michael.
“Of course, in many cases this may be true. Yet the recent death of Kevin McGee, the former husband of Little Britain star Matt Lucas, and now the dubious events of Gately’s last night raise troubling questions about what happened. It is important that the truth comes out about the exact circumstances of his strange and lonely death.”
Moir’s comments have provoked anger from all quarters.
A number of PinkNews.co.uk readers have emailed in to complain about her comments. One told us: “Poor Stephen, he was a young man that died too early. Do we really need this sort of veiled hate? What about his family? I hope to God that they do not read this.”
Another described it as “utterly dreadful” and called on gay and lesbians to complain.
Many readers of the Daily Mail’s online version have expressed their disgust at the article with some calling for her to be sacked. Only a minority of those leaving comments on the story agreed with her sentiments.
On Twitter, Moir’s name is the top news subject. Prolific Tweeter Stephen Fry wrote: “I gather a repulsive nobody writing in a paper no one of any decency would be seen dead with has written something loathsome and inhumane.”
Meanwhile, Times journalist Caitlin Moran wrote in a tongue-in-cheek message: “Jan Moir better pray she never needs another hair cut or interior design job again.”
Angry readers are being encouraged to complain to the Press Complaint Commission (PCC).
A PCC spokesman told PinkNews.co.uk that it was receiving “a significant number” of complaints, with around 200 logged by 1pm.
By around 3pm, the commission’s website appeared to have crashed under the weight of the complaints.
Earlier today, a number of Twitter users suggested contacting companies such as Marks & Spencer, Enjoy England and BT which were advertising on Moir’s page on the Daily Mail website.
In the last few hours, most of the advertisements on the page have disappeared.
The headline of the piece has also changed, from ‘Why there was nothing “natural” about Stephen Gately’s death’ to ‘A strange, lonely and troubling death’.
At the time of publication, the Daily Mail had not responded to a request for comment.