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PCC rejects complaint over Jan Moir’s Stephen Gately article

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  1. sadly this was no surprise – especially when the DM guy’s in charge

  2. What a surprise!!! not! (another whitewahs for the Daily Mail – who’s editor incidentally is a fairly high-up member of the PCC).

    The PCC is a toothless irrelvance. How can you expect a system where poeple are judge and party (in a commercial environment) to work?

    This morning on Today (just before 8am if you want to look for the interview), the head of the PCC (a baroness who’s name escapes me) boasted that the PCC works because it’s independent of the government…. Without being apparently bothered with the fact that the PCC is not adjudicating on the government…

  3. Simon Murphy 18 Feb 2010, 11:42am

    Well Paul Dacre is the editor of the Daily Heil and very high up in the PCC so it’s no surprise. There’s no way he would have allowed the complaint to be upheld.

    I wonder if Paul Dacre was involved in the decision to reject the complaint. Quire probably. If so then I think the PCC needs to be drastically reformed as it seems that ‘self regulation’ for the press actually means ‘self protection’

    Why not ask the PCC if Dacre was involved in the rejection of the complaint and if they feel self regulation for the press is working when quite clearly the Daily Mail caused grave offense to thousands of people with their spiteful homophobia, yet the PCC closes ranks around them to protect them.

    You can ask them directly at

  4. Disheartened 18 Feb 2010, 11:52am

    I am not really surprised at the PCC ruling.

    When the Daily Mail North Cliffe group owned ‘West Briton newspaper’ ran adverts for the millionaire business Trago Mills in Cornwall back in the 1997, advocating ‘the castration of gay men to stop the spread of AIDS’ the Advertising Standards Authority & Press council did not want to know and initially expressed this was aceptable press conduct.

    It took further complaint and a protest by Falmouth Art College students outside the store to make the ASA re-look at their original dismissal of the complaint.

    This latest PCC ruling will give the Daily Mail(and other papers owned by the Northcliffe group) a green light in the run up to the election to demonise gay people further with impunity & bile.

  5. No suprise there then, and the Daily Mail seem to be gloating over the fact that they have got away with it again.

    It is interesting that the Mail only printed part of the ruling, missing out the point where they did get criticism –

    “None of this meant that the Commission sought to deny the validity of the strong reaction against the article or of the notion that the article could be held to be in questionable taste. It was indisputable that the article had caused the complainant great distress, as it had many others”,

    and the last line in the Mails article about the ruling,

    “A post-mortem found Mr Gately, 33, died of natural causes, through an acute pulmonary oedema, after a night out drinking with Mr Cowles in Majorca on October 10 last year”,

    whilst not inaccurate, once again steers the reader to the wrong conclusion that his night out and lifestyle potentially were to blame.

    Having read the entire adudication – – I found myself agreeing with the PCC on some points, but disagreeing in general.

    I’m sure it is not an easy position to be in for the PCC, freedom of speech is essential, but even if this is a columnist and the views expressed are personal, should they not at least be factually accurate? To say that Moir’s ‘facts’ were based on information already printed in the press, just goes to prove how inaccurate the press are in reporting these sort of events.

    Self regulation has never worked and it’s time the PCC was run by people outside the meida industry, who may be fare more objective about such matters, than people within the industry who all have a vested interest in the outcome of such complaints.

  6. Bash 'em hard 18 Feb 2010, 11:57am



    A modicum of common sense.

    Yes, this from the PCC boss, HIV homosexual boss Lord Chris Smith himself. What a spendiferous fellow!

    But, now doubt, the wailing and wallowing will continue adinfinitem.


  7. Jan Moir was doing what tabloid journalists do, and writing what tabloid readers want to read.

    But if the 25,000+ Members wanted to give her what-for, I think they should consider their campaign successful. I’m sure she has more grey hairs and slightly higher blood pressure as a result.

  8. I am disgusted with this. If this had been about a race issue their would have been no doubt that the result would have been differently. Allowing this now, has given the media more green lights to treat LGBT people as second class citizens.

    If it was her freedom of speech to spew completely inaccurate and offensive drivel, then surely this has given vile groups like the BNP the justifcation to spew exactly the same. What would be the difference.

    This is why I don’t buy papers, why waste the momeny. You can read the drivel for free.

  9. Oh Lordy, waste of money even!!

  10. John(Derbyshire) 18 Feb 2010, 12:30pm

    Look guys-all you have to do when Moir or anybody else publishes this kind og homophobic nonsense is complain to the ADVERTISERS on the site-or on the samepage of the paper. NO advertiser would want to be associated with homophobia in this day and age. It was only when the advertisers started withdrawing their ads from the Jan Moir on-line article page that the Mail started to backtrack.

  11. I’m afraid that all this ruling does (whilst not surprising) is send out the message that LGBT people are fair-game for a verbal bashing. We’re the ducks in the shooting barrel and all the homophobic hacks know it now.

  12. on reflection did the mail “win”. Would they publish another article like it, I doubt it. Two advertisers requested not to be on the same page as the article at the time. Would the Daily fail, risk this again, I doubt it. I dont think they won at all.

  13. ps, This is why I don’t buy papers, why waste the money. You can read the drivel for free

    I totally agree with you. I always read the mail online every morning. I love the comments sections after the articles. It shows so much how thick the average mail reader is. I piss myself laughing sometimes. Last comment I read was about imigration, guy ranted and rave about how it was distorying the UK, etc etc, and he lived in FRANCE. LOL.

  14. “Allowing this now, has given the media more green lights to treat LGBT people as second class citizens.”

    I agree, Squidgy. John(Derbyshire) – an excellent idea.

    I can’t believe there’s no censure against Moir. What message does this send out? Surely she should be prosecuted on the inaccuracy of the article alone? Her article wasn’t free speech, it was hate speech and lies and speculation.

  15. Simon Murphy 18 Feb 2010, 1:14pm

    I think that while the Mail may have escaped censure this time (due in no small part I reckon to Mail editor Paul Dacre’s senior position at the PCC) I think the Mail will think long and hard before publishing a blatantly homophobic column designed specifically to cause offence.

    Look at the Mail since the Moir article.

    On the Monday after the Moir column Janet Street Porter wrote a very positive article about gay people.

    Duncan James and Gareth Thomas both gave interviews to the Mail about their sexuality which were both supportive and non-judgemental.

    They’ve hired Andrew Pierce as their ‘house-gay’. This is the most devious element of the Mail’s strategy as his appointment is clearly meant to sugarcoat any homophobic opinions they want to express. They’ll have him write it and then claim that it cannot be homophobic because their house-gay wrote it. If he has any integrity then he won’t allow himself to be exploited that way.

    As for Roly-Poly Jan Moir – well if the Mail ever decide to get rid of her (I predict by the end of 2010 she’ll no longer be with them) then the only place that will be willing to hire her will be the BNP monthly newsletter.

  16. The Daily mail editor is chairman of the pcc. Why am I not surprised.

    If this article had been about any other minority in the UK the PCC would have screamed blue murder.

  17. Simon Murphy 18 Feb 2010, 1:35pm

    If you’re really unhappy with the PCC’s ruling then make a complaint about the PCC to the Department of Media, Culture and Sport.

    They can be contacted on

    I wrote the following (I love to cause trouble)

    “I am requesting that in light of the Daily Mail article about the death of Stephen Gately by Jan Moir, that the ‘self regulating’ PCC be replaced with an independent media watchdog. The fact that Paul Dacre the editor of the Mail is a senior figure in the PCC indicates a clear conflict of interest in this (and other) cases. ‘Self regulating’ is not meant to be the same as ‘self protecting’. The rejection by the PCC of the complaints made against the Mail sends a clear signal that homophobic abuse is tolerated and accepted by the PCC using the pretence of ‘freedom of speech’. Please confirm what action is to be taken to introduce an independent, impartial media watchdog.”

  18. Christine Rourke 18 Feb 2010, 1:57pm

    Well, Dacre’s actaully not the PPC Chairman.

    He was, IIRC, the Chair of the PCC Committee that drew up their Code of Practice.

    But yes, the PCC is essentially a “keep-it-in-the-family” organisation.

    It is designed simply to allow the Press the pretence that they have a degree of regulation when it comes to accuracy, and ethical and moral standards.

    It’s a pathetic joke, like most self-regulating bodies.


  19. Moir wrote that Gately’s death formed “another blow to the happy-ever-after myth of civil partnerships”.

    It is absolutely CLEAR that Moir’s above statement demeaned CPs between gay and lesbian people. She very clearly said that our CPs being happy-ever-after is a myth.

    Had she immediately then made it very clear in her disputed article that ALL partnerships and ALL marriages being happy-ever-after is a myth, then she might have been on safe ground.

    But she didn’t.

    She derided our unions. She suggested that they are false and fake. She implied that heterosexual unions CAN be happy-ever-after but homosexual unions cannot.

    That the PCC has chosen to ignore this is, to use Moir’s language, another blow for our image in the eyes of the UK public.

  20. It’s clear gay people still have a long way to go in getting equal rights – if she had said about a black singer and if all black people are fit to be in a partnership – she would have been sacked and burned at the stake that afternoon… when it’s about gay people, that’s apparently just an “opinion”..

  21. I think this outcome will now severly damage the reputation and future relevance of the PCC! How can a so called independent body have D.Mail insiders and the like , calling the shots? It rubbishes the whole organisation! Abolish and replace with a true independent body!

  22. Simon Murphy 18 Feb 2010, 2:20pm

    Can you imagine if a newspaper stated that the death (due to natural causes) of 1 half of a mixed race heterosexual couple dealt a heavy blow to the happy ever after myth of mixed race marriages; what the response would be.

    The journalist would have been sacked.

    The PCC is a toothless PR exercise.

  23. Simon Murphy 18 Feb 2010, 2:22pm

    “I think this outcome will now severly damage the reputation and future relevance of the PCC! How can a so called independent body have D.Mail insiders and the like , calling the shots? It rubbishes the whole organisation! Abolish and replace with a true independent body! ”

    Well get in touch with the Department of Culture, Media and Sport at the contact details given above to request that.

    Unless they are held accountable the PCC will continue to act as a self-preservation mechanism for the press and allow them to avoid accountability.

  24. If she had written such things about Princess Di, she would have been strung up! Yet again famous gays are still the brunt of sylatious journos!

  25. I wonder has she been asked for her “opinion” on such groups as blacks, immigrants, asylum seekers, Muslims etc? I daresay she’d be more measure in her choice of words. A shame that gays can still be fair game in the bashing stakes. One solution people, vote with your feet or wallets and just don’t buy that rag.

  26. Simon Murphy 18 Feb 2010, 3:06pm

    But C – a boycott of the Daily Mail is pointless as anybody with an ounce of decency or humanity wouldn’t buy it anyway.

    The Daily Mail published a gratuitously offensive article and their chums in the PCC (including Mail editor Paul Dacre) has exonerated them.

    The issue is no longer the Daily Mail. It is the fact that the British press standards are being set by the British press themselves.

    As we have seen in recent months it would be entirely inappropriate for British banks to regulate their own behaviour. I don’t see why the British press should be self regulating when the PCC seems to exist simply to protect its own members rather than the public interest.

  27. Mumbo Jumbo 18 Feb 2010, 3:23pm

    A clear example of what happens when you put the rabbits in charge of the lettuce.

    Or as Jim Royale would say: “Self-regulation my arse”.

  28. Mumbo Jumbo 18 Feb 2010, 3:28pm

    The BBC are having a “Have Your Say” forum on this:

    Get stuck in.

  29. No matter what they tell us
    No matter what they do
    No matter what they teach us
    What we believe is true

    No matter what they call us
    However they attack
    No matter where they take us
    We’ll find our own way back

    I can’t deny what I believe
    I can’t be what I’m not
    I know our love forever
    I know, no matter what

    If only tears were laughter (ooh)
    If only night was day (ooh)
    If only prayers were answered (hear my prayers)
    Then we would hear God say (say)

    No matter what they tell you (ooh)
    No matter what they do (ooh)
    No matter what they teach you
    What we believe is true

    And I will keep you safe and strong
    And shelter from the storm
    No matter where it’s barren
    A dream is being born


    No matter who they follow
    No matter where they lead
    No matter how they judge us
    I’ll be everyone you need

    No matter if the sun don’t shine (sun don’t shine)
    Or if the skies are blue (skies are blue)
    No matter what the end is
    My life began with you

    I can’t deny what I believe (what I believe, yeah)
    I can’t be what I’m not
    (I know, I know) I know this love’s forever
    That’s all that matters now
    No matter what

    No matter what (no, no matter, no)

    No, no matter
    That’s all that matters to me

  30. I still think this is all a storm in a gnat’s eggcup.
    Yes, she was tactless, yes she mistimed it, yes she got all her assumptions to a large degree wrong. But no, the article was not homophobic. It was just her (misguided) opinion, and I totally go with the PCC on this, because otherwise we will be censoring free speech, and that is a major no-no.

    I’m sure there will be many who will attack me for saying this, but LGBT people are NOT perfect, and one can’t go swinging round accusations of homophobia every time someone has a pop at you.

  31. “LGBT people are NOT perfect”

    Very true, RobN. But what got me about the article was the implication that LGBT people were always, by definition, not perfect, simply because of their sexuality. Such a sweeping generalisation is offensive and simply encourages the casual homophobia that so many people have to put up with on a day to day basis. It’s snide, spiteful, hateful rumour-mongering with the implication that “we all know what THEY’RE like”.

    Moir wouldn’t have DARED say that about black people, but she felt safe to do so about gay people. That’s depressing.

  32. It’s not a free speech matter. Of course she’s entitled to say whatever she wants. Free speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequences, though. If the PCC had censured Moir, it wouldn’t have affected her free speech in any way – all it would have done is tell her that she crossed a line. The whole ‘free speech’ argument is entirely spurious.

  33. Clearly the right and sensible decision. The PCC rises in my estimation. The Daily Mail does not.

  34. rjb – it wasn’t right or sensible

    RobN – the article was homophobic and she BS’d her way through it

  35. The Halcyon 18 Feb 2010, 7:04pm

    The initial complaint was poorly phrased; a better-worded one which went straight for the weaker parts of the article (i.e. the factual inaccuracies) rather than a broad, sweeping charge would most likely have resulted in a slap-down by the PCC.

    The PCC judgement on accuracy was pretty weak also and did allow for “benefit of doubt” but in my opinion that side of the complaint should have been upheld as the columnist did not “make clear that comment, conjecture and fact should clearly be distinguished”.

  36. Simon Murphy 18 Feb 2010, 7:41pm

    RobN: No 30: “It was just her (misguided) opinion, and I totally go with the PCC on this, because otherwise we will be censoring free speech, and that is a major no-no.”

    The trouble is that there are double standards being applied.

    If Moir had written an article about how the marriage problems of Cheryl and Ashley Cole exposed “the happy ever after myth of mixed race marriages” it would never be published.

    The editor would have deemed it massively inappropriate and there would be no talk about impinging on a journalist’s freedom of speech. The public would not even be aware that the journalist had been censored as the article would never have reached print.

    Racism has not disappeared from Britain. However it would be difficult to notice just from reading the press. Self censorship by the media on the subject of race is already in place?

    It would seem however that inaccurate, false, ill timed, spiteful journalism about gay people somehow needs to be protected by ‘freedom of speech’.

    That’s a double standard if ever I saw one.

  37. Simon Murphy has taken the words right from my fingers! I would go further and say that making any kind of racist statement, especially in print, is a criminal offence.

  38. marjangles 18 Feb 2010, 8:36pm

    A contortionist would be proud and envious of the way the PCC managed to twist in order to get out of finding against the Daily Mail. If you actually read the articles of the code of practice that she was accused of breaching, there are clear violations of each. The most incredible and bizarre finding was that she was not insensitive (in breach of article 5) given that she herself had said in her so called apology that she had been!!! So if she consider herself insensitive how come the PCC don’t?

  39. Mumbo Jumbo 18 Feb 2010, 9:44pm

    Excellent, excoriating analysis of this PCC decision here:

  40. Not that I would in any way condone this because it is wrong but I’m wondering if another jorno would get away with being so ‘misguided'(read racist)if they wrote an article using the same or similar words about an ethnic section of society. Ummmmm, me thinks not, and quite rightly so…..just wondering why we have to put up with it then???!!! Disgusting!

  41. Simon Murphy 19 Feb 2010, 12:47am

    Quite clearly the PCC is not fit for purpose.

    Their rejection of the 25,000 complaints about the gross Daily Mail article is a strong arguement in favour of independent press regulation.

    Freedom of the press does not mean freedom to be intentionally and needlessly abusive.

  42. Simon Murphy 19 Feb 2010, 1:06am

    Maybe it’s my very elderly computer playing up, but it appears that the Mail has removed all reader comments about the PCC decision from their article about the decision.

    What is going on?

  43. No, Simon, it ain’t your computer. I have occasionally tried to leave comments on Daily Mail pages but those comments have never been published. The only way to make absolutely sure you get a comment published on a Daily Mail page is to NOT say anything which goes against the Tory White English Establishment grain. Don’t do this and your comment is simply rejected by their censors. I’ve even tried writing comments which SEEM to come from a typical bigoted Daily Mail point of view but which then, maybe in the last line, put the punch in, and those entire messages have not appeared. Their censors are very perceptive. If they SNIFF anything seriously critical, then that’s it, you’re simply CUT.

  44. Let’s face it. You are all just moaning on and licking your wounds because the PCC didn’t deliver the result you would have liked. Boo-bloody-hoo and throw your toys out of the pram. “We blamed Moir and got nowhere there, so let’s have a go at the PCC instead.”

    Self-regulatory bodies seem to work perfectly well with the BBFC (film), Advertising Standards Authority (advertising), Ofcom (communications and media) as well as many others across medical, legal, retail and education. Check here for a full list:

    The problem is whenever people don’t like something they complain about it. “56 complaints were received about a gay kiss in Eastenders last night” – But it’s an unbalanced perspective. What about the other millions that watched it that either a) enjoyed it or b) frankly, couldn’t give a toss. You never get “6.5m people rang in last night to say the gay snog was cool”.

    The Daily Mail sells copy. Lot’s of it. As long as people continue to read this crap, the Moirs of this world will write it.

    How do you perplex a Daily Mail reader?
    A: Tell them an illegal asylum seeker has just killed a paedophile.

  45. Oh, and an anagram of “Jan Moir, columnist of the Daily Mail”
    is “Jail homo lot?! My friends, I’m a lunatic.” :)

  46. friday jones 19 Feb 2010, 11:29pm

    It’s quite clear that Ms.Moir believes that heterosexual marriage renders couples immortal. So we LGBT types have no one but ourselves to blame when we snuff it of natural causes.

  47. RobN – you ignore that Dacre is linked to the mail and the PCC was expected to fail
    I guess like Moir you aren’t interested in being realistic

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