Jan Moir’s article

Today in class I mentioned the Jan Moir article in the Daily Mail. I think it’s not so much about libel but about breaching the OFCOM code of conduct. I complained to the Complaints Commission when the article was out, and was outraged that nothing was done about it. I know it was a while ago but I still don’t really understand how she got away with it! This is an article I wrote for my blog at the time.

If you have read Jan Moir’s disgusting article in the Daily Mail and agree that actions should be taken on her, her editor or the paper, please do complain as I have done. However, even when I did complain I received an email saying that there will not be any action taken unless Stephen Gately’s family or friends make a complaint themselves. Does it not occur to them that the family and friends of Mr Gately may be a tad busy grieving? Perhaps they don’t want to talk about the horrible accusations and assumptions. Could it be possible that they want to remember their friend and family member in the best way possible and  dont want to read such drivel?  Is this just an insensitive way of The Mail blowing off their responsibilities?

In her article she made many connections between homosexuality and Stephen Gatelys death. So once she managed to insult the recently passed away pop star was she happy and content with herself? Did she nip off to bed for a peaceful slumber? No. No, that’s just not far enough for our Jan. She decided to dig up another death and insult their loved ones –  “the recent death of Kevin McGee, the former husband of Little Britain star Matt Lucas, and now the dubious events of Gately’s last night raise troubling questions about what happened”. This makes me wonder what goes on in the deluded womans head. I mean… what exactly is she implying? Every gay man who dies has died due to some crazy “troubling” circumstances?

So once she’s finished offending the entire gay community, does she take this opportunity to save some of her dignity and leave it there? No, once again she needs to drag even more people into her whirlpool of discrimination and mysterious “unnatural deaths”.  From this next charming piece of journalism we see shes eager to bump everyone off. “Robbie, Amy, Kate, Whitney, Britney; we all know who they are. And we are not being ghoulish to anticipate, or to be mentally braced for, their bad end: a long night, a mysterious stranger, an odd set of circumstances that herald a sudden death.”

So perhaps i’ve got it wrong, perhaps Jan Moir isnt a homophobe, rather a sad and twisted woman who thinks she is not only a good journalist, but also a coroner and a mind reader.

Yes, there is such a thing as freedom of speech, and the woman can say what she likes. However, as a writer for the press she must abide to the press Code of Conduct. So, incase you don’t get why the article is legally wrong, here is my complaint.

  • Sections 1, 5 and 12 of the code of practice have clearly been breached in this article.
  • Section 1 – accuracy has been breached as Moir claims Gately died from unnatural causes, even though all official reports stated his death was due to natural causes. She also states that other celebrities will come to a “bad end” which is clearly an assumption. There are also links made with civil marriages and death. These are only 3 examples of the many inaccuracies in this article.
  • Section 5 – Intrusion into grief or shock. Not only does she offend Gately, his partner and all the grieving people who knew him. But she personally insults his family and mother by mentioning that they are insisting that Gately died from natural causes and didn’t use drugs. She also implies it is wrong for his mother to insist he died from an undetected heart condition.
  • Section 12 – Discrimination, both parts of this section have been breached.
    i) Moir clearly discriminates against homosexuals. She not only refers to that sexual preference as “sleazy” and “dangerous” but she links it to death. She also makes remarks on civil partnerships, “Another real sadness about Gately’s death is that it strikes another blow to the happy-ever-after myth of civil partnerships.” This is clearly untrue and irrelevant.
    ii) I don’t believe that sexual orientation is at all relevant when reporting on the death of Stephen Gately, yet this is the focus of her article.
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2 Responses

  1. Hey Danielle, I totally agree with all your points in this article and the one you made in class yesterday when you queried how she got away with it. I felt exactly the same as you when the article came out and also questioned why there weren’t serious professional ramifications for her. The reason which my lecturers gave me at the time and the ones that I said yesterday were that she is an opinion columnist and therefore is somehow exempt from libel and from being held accountable under the press code of conduct because those rules only apply if she were to write a serious article and the article were to carry the tone that she was making a statement of fact. I was led to believe that she escaped a professional backlash because she projected her thoughts as her opinion. Diane said yesterday that this is not the case but I’m still not clear as why she got away with it. Unless it does soley come down to the fact that his family didn’t pursue it. I’m as confused as you are. I wonder how we could find out the exact ins and outs of it?
    Lisa x

  2. From the reply I received it looks like Diane is right –

    Dear Danielle Rowley
    Thank you for sending us your complaint about the Daily Mail article on the subject of the death of Stephen Gately. We have received numerous complaints about this matter.
    I should first make clear that the Commission generally requires the involvement of directly affected parties before it can begin an investigation into an article. On this occasion, it may be a matter for the family of Mr Gately to raise a complaint about how his death has been treated by the Daily Mail. I can inform you that we have made ourselves available to the family and Mr Gately’s bandmates, in order that they can use our services if they wish.
    We require the direct involvement of affected parties because the PCC process can have a public outcome and it would be discourteous for the Commission to publish information relating to individuals without their knowledge or consent. Indeed, doing so might unwittingly add to any intrusion. Additionally, one of the PCC’s roles is dispute resolution, and we would need contact with the affected party in order to determine what would be an acceptable means of settling a complaint.
    On initial examination, it would appear that you are, therefore, a third party to the complaint, and wemay not be able to pursue your concerns further. However, if you feel that your complaint touches on claims that do not relate directly to Mr Gately or his family, please let us know, making clear how they raise a breach of the Code of Practice. If you feel that the Commission should waive its third party rules, please make clear why you believe this.

    Press Complaints Commission

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