Ian Burrell edits the Media Weekly pages of The Independent.
"What a cold and nasty piece of gutter journalism"...."This is an absolutely revolting article"...."Shame on you Jan Moir", are just a tiny selection of soundbites from the outpouring of outrage on the Daily Mail's website following an extraordinary piece by one of the paper's best-known columnists, suggesting that the death of the Boyzone singer was not by natural causes, as an official announcement had stated.
The article, attacking gay lifestyles, has caused uproar among bloggers and on the instant messaging site Twitter, where calls are being made for an advertising boycott of the Daily Mail and for the sacking of Jan Moir.
On the social networking site Facebook a group has been set up calling for the retraction of the article. Hundreds of users quickly signed up.
Sources at Associated Newspapers, which owns the Mail, were this afternoon trying to distance the paper from the comments of individual columnists, a claim that is hardly likely to appease critics.
Moir is understood to be currently working on a statement to explain her actions.
Scoffing at the outpouring of grief over the pop singer's death, Moir wrote in her column this morning that "The sugar-coating on this fatality is so saccharine-thick that it obscures whatever bitter truth lies beneath." And as she launched into a vicious attack on gay lifestyles, she opined that "whatever the cause of death is, it is not by any yardstick, a natural one."
According to Moir, "I think if we are going to be honest, we would have to admit that the circumstances surrounding his death are more than a little sleazy." She then suggested that because Gately and his partner Andrew Cowles had invited a Bulgarian friend home on the evening of Gately's death "it is not disrespectful to assume that a game of canasta...was not what was on the cards".
The singer's death, she said, was a reflection on gay marriage. "Another real sadness about Gately's death is that it strikes another blow to the happy-ever-after myth of civil partnerships," she claimed. "Under the carapace of glittering, hedonistic celebrity, the ooze of a very different and more dangerous lifestyle has seeped out for all to see."
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