An article by Daily Mail columnist Jan Moir on Stephen Gately’s death has sparked a complaint to the police and thousands of people contacting the Press Complaints Commission.

The Guardian has reported that a record-breaking 21,000 people have complained to the PCC.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: “We have received a complaint from a member of the public.”

In the column about the gay singer’s death on Friday, Moir wrote: “Healthy and fit 33-year-old men do not just climb into their pyjamas and go to sleep on the sofa, never to wake up again. Whatever the cause of death is, it is not, by any yardstick, a natural one.”

She added that the pop star’s death in Majorca after a night out ‘strikes another blow to the happy-ever-after myth of civil partnerships’.

And finished the piece with: “For once again, under the carapace of glittering, hedonistic celebrity, the ooze of a very different and more dangerous lifestyle has seeped out for all to see.”

Moir defended her opinion piece branding suggestions of homophobia as ‘mischievous’, claiming that the backlash was a ‘heavily orchestrated internet campaign’ and questioning how many of those who complained had actually read the column.

The issue sparked a debate about the article on social networking sites, Stephen Fry wrote on Twitter: “The Press Complaints Commission website is down. Sheer volume of traffic. That says something about the strength of feeling I think.”