Former Evening Standard theatre critic attacks newspaper’s defence of Jan Moir

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Nicholas de Jongh, the former Evening Standard theatre critic, has attacked the newspaper for publishing an article defending Jan Moir’s remarks on Stephen Gately.

De Jongh, who left the Evening Standard in March 2009 after 17 years, said a piece yesterday titled ‘Liberals, yes, but hardly models of tolerance’ was “appalling”.

The article was written by Melanie McDonagh. In it, she argued that although a study had shown increased tolerance for homosexuality, she wondered whether Britain had “replaced reactionary illiberalism with liberal intolerance”.

She wrote that Moir, a Daily Mail writer, had been subjected to a “terrifying campaign of intimidation” for her “off-message but factually truthful remarks” about Boyzone singer Gately in October.

Moir was accused of insinuating that Gately’s lifestyle had contributed to his death and 25,000 people contacted the Press Complaints Commission over the article.

Subsequent tests showed Gately had died from natural causes and that drugs and alcohol had nothing to do with his death.

De Jongh told “For the paper to publish something like that when we now know everything about the case, it is unbelievable.

“Such an uproar when we didn’t know anything, but to say it again?

“Here is the Evening Standard repeating the slur three months after that piece caused such as outrage. How can an editor allow such factual untruths and homophobic allusion, I wonder?”

He added: “Look at what the Daily Mail has done, it has appointed Andrew Pierce [and the interview with] Gareth Thomas, that sends pretty clear signals. [Daily Mail editor] Paul Dacre is a shrewd, sharp journalist. But here is the Standard saying ‘The Daily Mail was right’. How can they do that?

“This poor man… abused after his death all over again. It’s quite appalling. What message does it send to lesbians and gays in London?”

De Jongh also accused the Evening Standard of preferring to focus on celebrity-led gay news, rather than a true sense of the gay and lesbian community in London.

He said: “Would you know there was an epidemic of homophobic bullying in London schools other than [stories on] government direction?”

The Evening Standard declined to comment.

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