The Sun newspaper has used a picture caption in its coverage of the aide of gay artist David Hockney who was found dead earlier this year in the artist’s home, to brand him a “bender”.

Dominic Elliott, 23, died after drinking a household drain cleaner made up of concentrated sulphuric acid at the painter’s home in Bridlington, East Yorkshire, in March.

Elliott died as a result of taking acid, having previously partied with the acclaimed gay artist’s former partner, an inquest heard last week. Mr Hockney, 76, was asleep at home at the time. His former long-term partner, John Fitzherbert, told the hearing that he drove Mr Elliott to Scarborough Hospital in the early hours of the morning.

In its coverage The Sun posted a picture of Elliott, with accompanying text which read: “An aide to David Hockney was killed in a drugs and booze bender at the world-famous artist ’ s home — when he guzzled TOILET CLEANER.”

The caption for the image simply read: “Bender”. The newspaper has been criticised by gay rights advocates for its use of the word, which in the body text clearly refers to the bender of drugs and alcohol Elliott underwent before his death, but as the standalone caption could be misconstrued as a homophobic slur.

A pathologist said that temazepam and ecstasy was also found in Elliott’s body. Dr Richard Shepherd said the acid severely burned Mr Elliott’s mouth, tongue and throat before perforating his stomach.

Mr Fitzherbert, 48, was Hockney’s long-term partner for 20 years and still lives at the artist’s home and runs his domestic affairs.

After the verdict of misadventure, Humberside Police confirmed an investigation was continuing into possible drugs offences following Mr Elliott’s death.

Mr Hockney previously painted a portrait of Mr Elliot in 2008.

The Sun has not responded to a request for comment.

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