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Laurence Fox loses High Court battle after calling two people paedophiles on social media

The actor-turned-politican made the comments during an argument over Sainsbury’s support for Black History Month

Holly Evans
Monday 29 January 2024 18:10 GMT
Laurence Fox arrives at High Court in London for libel trial

The actor Laurence Fox has lost his High Court libel battle with two people he referred to as paedophiles on social media.

The right wing activist was sued by former Stonewall trustee Simon Blake and drag artist Crystal over a row on Twitter, now known as X, in October 2020.

The exchange involved a decision by Sainsury’s to provide a safe space for black employees during Black History Month, with Fox, 45, calling for a boycott of the supermarket.

The Lewis star, who founded the Reclaim Party, accused the shop of promoting racial segregation and discrimination and was called a racist by Mr Bale and the former former RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant, whose real name is Colin Seymour.

He subsequently termed the two and actor Nicola Thorp “paedophiles”, prompting them to launch libel action while he counter-sued them.

In her ruling, Mrs Justice Collins Rice described Fox’s “labelling” of two men as paedophiles in a social media row “seriously harmful, defamatory and baseless”.

Fox called the ruling as a ‘nothing burger’

“The law affords few defences to defamation of this sort,” she continued. “Mr Fox did not attempt to show these allegations were true, and he was not able to bring himself on the facts within the terms of any other defence recognised in law.

Speaking outside the Royal Courts of Justice, Fox described the ruling in his libel case as a “nothing burger”.

“It means that we’re going to have to go back to court, to appeal, to get a meaning of this word,” he said.

“What is a racist? Every single person in this country knows what a racist is, except the people that dominate every single national institution that we have.”

Fox counter-sued the trio after he was called a racist

Following the ruling, broadcaster Ms Thorp said in a post on X, formerly Twitter: “We won. On all counts.

“For the last three years, Laurence Fox has held us responsible for the downfall of his acting career, his failure to become London mayor and even the increasing cost of his car insurance.

“During my cross-examination, his barrister even suggested I was responsible for his arrest in October last year.

“All because on 4th October 2020 we exercised our right to free speech by expressing our honestly held opinions.

“The same man who later told a black man to ‘f*** off back to Jamaica’, posted pride flags in the shape of a swastika and shared blacked up images of himself and his children.

“It’s time that Mr Fox accepted that any damage to his reputation is entirely his own doing.”

In a post online, drag artist Crystal said: “I am incredibly relieved to have this outcome - a huge weight I’ve been carrying for over three years has just been lifted.

“I want to say again that I took no joy in bringing this case, nor did I do so lightly. Mr Fox could have made this go away very early on with a meaningful apology and settlement.”

Fox got involved in a social media row after a post he made about Sainsbury’s (Ian West/PA)

The performer, whose real name is Colin Seymour, continued: “Ironically for Mr Fox, this victory is a victory for free speech.

“The freedom to express an opinion and not be sued for doing so. Free speech does not cover factual allegations of criminality such as paedophilia.”

During a trial in London in November, Fox was described as an alleged “intelligent racist with an agenda”.

Lorna Skinner KC, representing Mr Blake, Mr Seymour and Ms Thorp, said the trio “honestly believed, and continue honestly to believe, that Mr Fox is a racist”.

She said the actor “has made a number of highly controversial statements about race”, adding: “If and to the extent that Mr Fox has been harmed in his reputation, it is his own conduct and not the claimants’ comments on it that caused that harm.”

The barrister highlighted several of Fox’s social media posts, including a June 2022 tweet of four pride flags arranged in the shape of a swastika.

Mrs Justice Collins Rice did not make a ruling on whether or not Fox was a racist, after finding the three tweets in his counter-claim were unlikely to cause serious harm to his reputation.

In his written evidence for the case, Mr Seymour said he had faced overwhelming and distressing abuse after Fox’s tweet, adding that he felt less safe as a drag performer.

Mr Blake, now chief executive of Mental Health First Aid England, said the incorrect suggestion that gay men were paedophiles was “a trope as old as the hills”.

Broadcaster Nicola Thorp claimed that Fox had “outed himself as a racist” with a tweet calling for a boycott of the supermarket.

She said that any reputational harm Fox suffered “was because of what he did, not because of what I said”.

Fox said he was ‘horrified’ to have been called a racist (Ian West/PA)

Patrick Green KC, representing Fox, told the court neither Mr Blake nor Mr Seymour has suffered any actual consequences due to the actor’s tweets.

The barrister said the posts did not cause people to think worse of Mr Blake and Mr Seymour, and that people did not believe they were paedophiles.

Instead, Mr Green said readers would have understood that Fox’s posts were a “retort to an allegation of racism” rather than a factual allegation.

Fox told the court he was horrified when he saw he had been called a racist, which he later described as “a career-ending word and a reputation-destroying allegation”.

In written evidence, he claimed that by 2020, he was earning at least £500,000 to £600,000 from acting but his life was destroyed by their accusation and he was unable to get a mortgage.

Faeces was posted through his door and his ex-wife Billie Piper, an actor with whom he shares two sons, became concerned that their children were no longer safe in his house.

The actor said he faced a significant decline in the number and quality of roles he was offered after he was accused of being a racist in the social media row.

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