Moir: 21,000 complain, PCC confirms enquiry


3:31 pm - October 19th 2009

by Sunny Hundal    


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The PCC will consider complaints made against Jan Moir’s article in the Daily Mail we can reveal.

A statement was emailed to Libcon and posted on the PCC website to confirm the unusual move by the Press Complaints Commission.

Writers speculated on other blogs, including at LibdemVoice, that the PCC might not intervene because its remit stated:

We normally accept complaints only from those who are directly affected by the matters about which they are complaining.

However, I contacted the PCC to say the case could not be considered “normal”.

A PCC spokesperson emailed back with this statement, also saying that over 21,000 people had complained about the article.

Full statement

PCC will consider complaints about Jan Moir column in the Daily Mail

Over the weekend, the PCC received more than 21,000 complaints about the column by Jan Moir published in the Daily Mail on Friday 16th October headlined “A strange, lonely and troubling death” and (initially) online “Why there was nothing ‘natural’ about Stephen Gately’s death”, which discussed the death of Boyzone singer Stephen Gately.

These 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.

The PCC generally requires the involvement of directly-affected parties in its investigations, and it has pro-actively contacted representatives of Boyzone – who are in touch 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.

This seems to be a reversal of the PCC’s position. Sarah Ditum points out that on Friday the PCC emailed back with a different response:

On initial examination, it would appear that you are, therefore, a third party to the complaint, and wemay [sic] 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.

At Next Left, Sunder Katwala says that despite the about-face, the PCC’s reputation and its conduct should still be questioned:

Taking the biggest ever virtual mail-sack of press complaints and saying “nothing to do with us, guv’nor” – would bring the PCC itself and the whole status quo system of press regulation into deep public disrepute.

That is because it will, of course, be a surprise to many non-media insiders that the press complaints commission does not consider complaints from the public merely on the grounds that the articles are in breach of the PCC code which the newspapers have signed up to.

More
Media Monkey: Who is real Jan Moir on Twitter?

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


Excellent – its a press complaints commission to consider public complaints about press breakthrough.

The PCC would have been broken had it stuck to its usual policy on third party complaints – which is not in the code itself, and of which the public generally are unaware.

The key point of pressure is not that the Jan Moir case should be considered because it is “exceptional” – it is that it must of course be legitimate to challenge articles which breach the PCC code, without insisting that they are articles about you personally.

More thoughts in this post
http://www.nextleft.org/2009/10/breaking-press-complaints-commission-to.html

And one of the people who ultimately gets to decide whether the PCC will do anything about this is Paul Dacre. Who is group editor (which means in effect editor) of the, er, Daily Mail…

What sort of action can the PCC take?

What part of the PCC code has been breached? Certainly the article was offensive but then you can find offensive articles in most newspapers. What was it that made this one a special case (apart from the insensitive timing)?

4. Louis Mazzini

Let’s be clear, those who have the real power to get back at the Mail aren’t the PCC or the 21,000 who complained about the article.

For the Mail to really suffer, Ronan (Keating) and Louis (Walsh) need to get on their phones and start ringing round all their famous mates to ask them to have nothing more to do with that vile piece of effluent.

I held my nose and had a look on the Mail’s site today and it’s packed with inane shite about (so called) celebs. C’mon Ronan, you must have a contact book that would make Max Clifford aroused so put it to some use. C;mon Louis (great name btw), get all your X-Factor mates – Simon, Danni, Cheryl, Dermot – to tell the Mail to shove it next time they need to fill a double page spread.

Or are you just going to shrug your shoulders and not even bother, even though some hateful bitch was slagging off your mate with snide insinuations the day before he was buried? Is that still not enough for you to upset the celebrity-pr-journo clusterfuck that passes for news in this country.

ps – If you’re reading Mr Dacre (doubtful I know), how does your Christian morals and standards tie in with Gemma Atkinson in a school uniform (not that I’m complaining mind you, but then I’m a bit of a heathen).

I’m usually the first to say calm the f*** down when press hysteria takes off but since the Daily Mail is usually first to jump on the faux-outrage bandwaggon I’m content to sit back and watch them take a good twatting for a bit.

I’m not in favour of the PCC expanding their role though, because of the precident this will set: numbers of complaints received are not an indication of merit, and accepting complaints from parties not directly affected will open the floodgates for all kinds of nutters.

But in the meantime I’m enjoying the spectacle of shit-stirrers flailing about in their own shit.

I think this piece in Spiked magazine is worth taking into consideration here:

”I am offended, therefore I am
The overblown reaction to Jan Moir’s bilious column about Stephen Gately shows offence now trumps open debate.”

http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php/site/article/7587/

It says:

”Unfortunately the only thing thinner than Moir’s argument was the skin of those intent on turning a column into a plinth of neo-fascism.”

It argues that the PCC taking action against Moir or the Daily Mail could endanger freedom of speech.

I don’t think it’s unreasonable to assume 21,000 people genuinely took offence to Jan Moir’s article. It was, after all, incredibly offensive.

Generally though I share Shatterface’s view as expressed in #7, but more than the precedent I’m concerned about left-wing methods of organisation. We shouldn’t be encouraging people to think that the best way of taking action is by sending a complaint through the official channels which are controlled by the press itself (and in this case Dacre!); we should be encouraging action against the Daily Mail whether through direct action, unions, the Mail’s supply chain, action against its distributors etc.

8. Joy_to_the_world

This is the experience I also have had with the PCC. Unless the story is about you, or your immediate family then they will not consider it – even if it’s clearly breaching the rules.

Their change of tack is simply to retain their position – otherwise there are going to be tough questions about a body which does nothing and yet costs us all a lot of money to run.

“we should be encouraging action against the Daily Mail whether through direct action, unions, the Mail’s supply chain, action against its distributors etc.”

Are you implying you want to silence them by force? Or are you talking about organising a boycott? The latter strikes me as far more acceptable and can’t be perceived as censorship.

If you think Moir’s article is bad, take a look at this press statement from ‘Christian Voice’:

http://www.christianvoice.org.uk/Press/press133.html

Christians? Jesus.

A sample from the article I linked to:

‘In the meantime, if Stephen Gately’s death serves as a warning to millions of Boyzone fans not to get involved in his heartless world of degradation and depravity it will not have been in vain. I just hope he was praying in repentance when he died, praying for God to forgive him his sins by the merits of the blood of Jesus Christ, asking for release for his tortured mind and fellowship with the God who alone has power to forgive and restore. I pray to see Gately in heaven, repentant, forgiven, restored, washed clean in the blood of Jesus. Amen.’

That’s followed by a link if you want to join their particular brand of ‘Brotherly Love’.

12. Passing Libertarian

“Are you implying you want to silence them by force? Or are you talking about organising a boycott? The latter strikes me as far more acceptable and can’t be perceived as censorship.”

That’s what leftist scum have usually done to people they don’t agree with. This disgusting reaction to the Jan Moir article is just the latest attack by the radical left on free speech. The majority of people would moreorless agree with the article which merely reflects very ordinary opinions and prejudices. Most gays couldn’t care less about what some tabloid journalist writes about them. But as always the silent majority is being bullied into silence by a vocal minority. The Daily Mail should stand up for itself and for free speech.

‘The Daily Mail should stand up for itself and for free speech’

When the fuck did the Wail ever support free speech?

14. douglas clark

Passing Libertarian,

Hmm…

This disgusting reaction to the Jan Moir article is just the latest attack by the radical left on free speech.

Err, what about my free speech? I think she was talking shite. I am not saying she shouldn’t have the right to free speech, although I’d prefer it if she just mumbled to herself, up a mountain perhaps…

What is your point, Passing Libertarian, that she should be provided with a platform for her odious opinions? For that is what she had. Her views are OK just because they appeared in the Mail? And were paid for?

And mine are lesser because they appeared here? And were not paid for?

Is that it?

Perhaps it is.

You have really no idea how new media works, do you?

“the PCC’s reputation and its conduct should still be questioned:”

The PCC has a reputation?

Since when?

Just read “Passing Libertarian”… he’s a funny guy, no?

“But as always the silent majority is being bullied into silence by a vocal minority.”

Of course, the Mail would never stoop to engineering the vocal minority go contact Ofcom and complain about two celebs phoning a third celeb with smutty innuendo, not that they heard the said radio programme or anything…

The majority so far have not agreed with Muir. Even Nestle have been offended and pulled their adverts, and it takes quite a bit to offend them.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. MK

    RT @libcon Moir: 21,000 complain, PCC confirms investigation http://retwt.me/17Mr3 #JanMoir

  2. Nick Drew

    RT @libcon Moir: 21,000 complain, PCC confirms investigation http://bit.ly/1fgw8n

  3. iestyn lloyd

    21,000 complained about #janmoir – PCC *WILL* investigate! http://bit.ly/4C5vIw (via @pickledpolitics)

  4. Tim Whale

    RT @pickledpolitics: RT @libcon Jan Moir: 21,000 complain, PCC confirms investigation to LC http://bit.ly/lFFQo

  5. dhara vyas

    RT pickledpolitics RT @libcon Jan Moir: 21,000 complain, PCC confirms investigation to LC http://bit.ly/lFFQo

  6. Jessica Asato

    RT @libcon Jan Moir: 21,000 complain, PCC confirms investigation to LC http://bit.ly/lFFQo <– I was one!!

  7. Nicola Davies

    RT @libcon Moir: 21,000 complain, PCC confirms investigation http://bit.ly/1fgw8n

  8. Jane Fleming

    RT @libcon: Jan Moir: 21,000 complain, PCC confirms investigation to LC http://bit.ly/lFFQo

  9. bmecdw

    Anyone else realise they don't usually take 3rd party offense? RT@libcon Moir: 21,000 complain, PCC confirms invest'n http://bit.ly/1fgw8n

  10. MK

    RT @libcon Moir: 21,000 complain, PCC confirms investigation http://retwt.me/17Mr3 #JanMoir

  11. Nick Drew

    RT @libcon Moir: 21,000 complain, PCC confirms investigation http://bit.ly/1fgw8n

  12. iestyn lloyd

    21,000 complained about #janmoir – PCC *WILL* investigate! http://bit.ly/4C5vIw (via @pickledpolitics)

  13. Tweets that mention Liberal Conspiracy » Moir: 21,000 complain, PCC confirms investigation -- Topsy.com

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by sunny hundal and Liberal Conspiracy, Nick Drew. Nick Drew said: RT @libcon Moir: 21,000 complain, PCC confirms investigation http://bit.ly/1fgw8n […]

  14. Tim Whale

    RT @pickledpolitics: RT @libcon Jan Moir: 21,000 complain, PCC confirms investigation to LC http://bit.ly/lFFQo

  15. dhara vyas

    RT pickledpolitics RT @libcon Jan Moir: 21,000 complain, PCC confirms investigation to LC http://bit.ly/lFFQo

  16. Twitted by mskitton

    […] This post was Twitted by mskitton […]

  17. Jessica Asato

    RT @libcon Jan Moir: 21,000 complain, PCC confirms investigation to LC http://bit.ly/lFFQo <– I was one!!

  18. Nicola Davies

    RT @libcon Moir: 21,000 complain, PCC confirms investigation http://bit.ly/1fgw8n

  19. Jane Fleming

    RT @libcon: Jan Moir: 21,000 complain, PCC confirms investigation to LC http://bit.ly/lFFQo

  20. bmecdw

    Anyone else realise they don't usually take 3rd party offense? RT@libcon Moir: 21,000 complain, PCC confirms invest'n http://bit.ly/1fgw8n

  21. loveandgarbage

    @chickyog http://bit.ly/1nIeJd http://bit.ly/rSwXL http://bit.ly/3cIIIh http://bit.ly/3kkcmx (tangential) http://bit.ly/1MW4St

  22. Left Outside

    Jan Moir first draft: The truth about my views on the tragic death of Stephen Gately…

    A first draft of a piece to be published in tomorrow’s Daily Mail has recently fallen into my hands. In it Jan Moir has explained her motivations for writing an article on the death of Steven Gately. Of course there are bound to be revisions befo…

  23. Causes and Effects « Bad Conscience

    […] Mail’s long-running homophobia reached an apex with Jan Moir’s horrific article on the death of Stephen Gately. And Britain kicked back, hard. The Mail certainly went “too far”. But it […]





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