PCC rejects Jan Moir complaint

By Ian Dunt

The Press Complaints Commission (PCC) has rejected a complaint into the now-infamous article written by Daily Mail journalists Jan Moir into the death of Stephen Gately.

The commission received a record 25,000 complaints into the piece, which appeared to suggest that his premature death was a result of his gay lifestyle.

The commission admitted being “uncomfortable with the tenor of the columnist’s remarks” but said finding against the Mail would represent a “slide towards censorship”.

“Argument and debate are working parts of an active society and should not be constrained unnecessarily,” the judgement read.

The piece became a popular trending topic on Twitter and the outraged reaction to Ms Moir’s argument represented one of the first major effects of the new social networking site on mainstream debate.

But some commentators worried about a new era of censorship if the outrage expressed on Twitter changed the Mail’s editorial stance or force it to remove the piece.

In the end, Ms Moir offered an apology for any pain she may have caused.

“While many complainants considered that there was an underlying tone of negativity towards Mr Gately and the complainant on account of the fact that they were gay, it was not possible to identify any direct uses of pejorative or prejudicial language in the article,” the ruling said.

A distinction must be drawn “between critical innuendo which, though perhaps distasteful, was permissible in a free society – and discriminatory description of individuals, and the code was designed to constrain the latter rather than the former,” the commission said.