The Press Complaints Commission will investigate whether Jan Moir’s article about the death of Boyzone singer Stephen Gately breached the Editors’ Code regadless of whether his relatives choose to pursue the matter.
Over the weekend the PCC received more than 21,000 complaints about the article printed in Friday’s Daily Mail which was headlined: “A strange, lonely and troubling death”. Online the piece was intially headlined: “Why there was nothing ‘natural’ about Stephen Gately’s death”.
Clause five of the Editors’ Code of Practice states: “In cases involving personal grief or shock, enquiries and approaches must be made with sympathy and discretion and publication handled sensitively.”
The PCC said in a statement that the Gately complaints “follow widespread discussion of the subject on social networking sites – especially Twitter – and represent by far the highest number of complaints ever received about a single article in the history of the commission”.
It said: “The PCC generally requires the involvement of directly-affected parties in its investigations, and it has pro-actively been in touch with representatives of Boyzone, who are in contact with Stephen Gately’s family, since shortly after his death. Any complaint from the affected parties will naturally be given precedence by the commission, in line with its normal procedures.
“If, for whatever reason, those individuals do not wish to make a complaint, the PCC will in any case write to the Daily Mail for its response to the more general complaints from the public before considering whether there are any issues under the Code to pursue.
“As the PCC will not be in a position to engage in direct correspondence with every complainant, it is issuing this statement to make clear what action it will be taking. It will make a further public statement when it has considered the matter. “