Jan Moir, writer for the Daily Mail, has finally said sorry to Gately family, and clarifies her stance, after the controversy surrounding her previous article last week on the death of personality, Stephen Gately.

Boyzone on The Late, Late Show, RTÉ One, last year.

“Last week, I wrote in this column about the death of Boyzone star Stephen Gately. To my horror, it has been widely condemned as ‘homophobic’ and ‘hateful’. Obviously, a great deal of offence has been taken and I regret any affront caused. This was never my intention.” – Jan Moir in her Daily Mail column

Moir also in this week’s edition of her weekly column questions the furore over her comments which have seen the biggest number of complaints issued to the Press Complaints Commission, for a single article, in its history; over 25,000. It was announced yesterday that Stephen’s record label, Polydor, had also made a formal complaint about the Daily Mail story.

“To be the focus of such depth of feeling has been an interesting experience, but I do not complain. After all, I am not  –  unlike those close to Stephen Gately  –  mourning for the loss of a much-loved partner, son, family member and close friend. To them, I would like to say sorry if I have caused distress by the insensitive timing of the column, published so close to the funeral.” – Jan Moir

The apology comes after a week of backlash directed at her and the Daily Mail newspaper which ran her story.

The Irish Daily Mail – part of the same company – distanced itself from the British publication in print earlier this week and high profile companies such as Marks & Spencer withdrew advertising from the Moir online page.

Moir clarifies her stance, “The point of my article was to suggest that, in my honest opinion, Stephen Gately’s death raised many unanswered questions. What had really gone on? … …We were told that Stephen died of ‘natural causes’ even before toxicology results had been released. This struck me as bizarre, given the circumstances. Absolutely none of this had anything to do with his sexuality. If he had been a heterosexual member of a boy band, I would have written exactly the same article.”

Other journalists have defended Moir’s article as being simply badly constructed which lead to many misinterpretations of her comments.

Mark Adnum writing for Spiked notes: “Buried in the article is evidence that she has a point, and one that is shared by many – only Moir was unable to articulate it beyond some stentorian moralising.”

I won’t deny that even I – a long term fan of Gately’s work on television and in music – this week have questioned parts of the story. A family heart problem? Polydor surly would have been keeping tabs on such a thing, after all he was a star turn, a top earner for them. ‘Why did no one know of this?’ is a question I’ve asked myself often since his death. I was also baffled how anyone could fail to notice Gately had died for over four hours. Without going into the depressingly gritty obvious, you generally can tell someone has gone.

But to comment on that last week, especially the day before Stephen’s funeral would be in poor taste, even for ATV Today – which can be blunt at the best of times. We all have more respect for talented performers than to steep that low, unlike the Daily Mail.

Mystery continues to surrounds his death, and only three people know the truth; only two have lived to tell it. Whether Stephen’s millions of fans, who cared about him for 16 years, are ever given a decent explanation remains to be seen. At the moment most still seem to be devastated by the sudden demise of their idol and have yet to look beyond the basic facts issued.

“There have been complaints about my use of the word ‘sleazy’ to describe this incident, but I still maintain that to die on a sofa while your partner is sleeping with someone else in the next room is, indeed, sleazy, no matter who you are or what your sexual orientation might be.” – Jan Moir

Whatever happened on that Saturday morning, most people I would think would just like to hope his last hours were happy ones – and he’d enjoyed his final night to the full. Again, Moir clarifies her comments on his final hours. She was criticised for calling them ‘Sleazy’. But she remains steadfast in her view it was sleazy to be found dead while your partner is in bed with ‘someone else’ in the next room.

Adnum agrees with her: “The circumstances surrounding his death were ‘a little sleazy’, just like the hotel-room antics of many Brits who decamp for a week or two to Spain. Gately and his partner brought a Bulgarian tourist back to their room, and the two latter guys (most probably) got into some man-ramming in the lounge area while Gately went to sleep.

Sounds like a fun and really quite typical young people’s night out while on holiday in a foreign country. Plenty of straight married couples and even more straight singletons like to swing and have threesomes and so on while on hot-weather holidays, and so gay couples should be able to do the same thing without specific gay-judgement.”

Moir wraps up her column with sentiments no one can argue with,

“I would just like to say that whatever did or did not happen in Majorca, a talented young man died before his time. This, of course, is a matter of regret and sadness for us all.”

Meanwhile the memorial fund sent up in Stephen’s memory has now reached £25,000 which will be donated to a children’s charity. And Polydor, the UK arm of Universal Music, confirmed they had made an official complaint about Moir’s comments last week to the newspaper regulator.

The record label, which  Gately was with from 1993 onwards as part of Boyzone and solo, refused to comment further. Partner Andrew Cowles also issued a statement via Gately’s official website.

“I want to thank all of Steo’s fans for the messages and kind thoughts you have sent to his family, friends and I over the past very difficult days. It’s hard for everyone who knew Stephen in any way to come to terms with the loss of someone so special at such a young age. I know from the messages I have received that he touched the lives of so many people and it’s comforting to know he made such a positive impact on everyone he met. In time I hope we’ll all be able to remember the happy times we shared with him and the joy he brought to our lives.”


Full Moir article HERE

Full Adnum Comment HERE

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