Uproar Over Gately Article

Daily Mail columnist Jan Moir’s take on the death of Boyzone singer Stephen Gately has led to the U.K.’s Press Complaints Commission website crashing and a howl of protest from some of the paper’s major advertisers.

The PCC site was reportedly swamped by thousands of e-mails and phone calls complaining about Moir questioning the role Gately’s lifestyle and sexuality played in his death.

“There was nothing ‘natural’ about Stephen Gately’s death,” she wrote on the eve of the 33-year-old’s funeral, prompting major companies including Marks & Spencer, Nestle, Visit England, Kodak and National Express to remove their ads from the paper’s online version.

The police reportedly received complaints about the article.

Mail online managing director James Bromley told New Media Age magazine the paper took the decision to remove the ads after it saw the strong reaction.

“We have asked the Daily Mail to move our advert away from the article,” an M&S spokesman told The Guardian. A Nestle spokesman told the same paper that the views in the article are not shared by Nestle.

“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. Whatever the cause of death is, it is not, by any yardstick, a natural one,” Moir had written. “For once again, under the carapace of glittering, hedonistic celebrity, the ooze of a very different and more dangerous lifestyle has seeped out for all to see.”

Moir is defending the piece and calling suggestions that she’s homophobic “mischievous.” She claims the backlash is “a heavily orchestrated Internet campaign.”

Her views also sparked off huge debates on networking sites such as Twitter, where actor, writer, comedian, and television presenter Stephen Fry said the crashing of the PCC website showed the strength of feeling against the piece.

“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,” he wrote. “Disgusted with the Daily Mail’s Jan Moir? Complain where it matters. She breaches 1,3,5 & 12 of the [PCC] code.”

A post-mortem verdict given five days after Gately died while on holiday on the island of Mallorca Oct. 10 ruled that the Irish singer’s death was from natural causes.