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Laurence Fox loses High Court libel battle over social media row

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

The actor-turned-politician was sued by former Stonewall trustee Simon Blake and drag artist Crystal over a row on Twitter, now known as X, in October 2020.

Mr Fox called Mr Blake and the former RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant, whose real name is Colin Seymour, “paedophiles” in an exchange about a decision by Sainsbury’s to mark Black History Month.

The Reclaim Party founder – who said at the time that he would boycott the supermarket – counter-sued the pair and broadcaster Nicola Thorp over tweets accusing him of racism.

In a ruling on Monday, High Court judge Mrs Justice Collins Rice ruled in favour of Mr Blake and Mr Seymour, dismissing Mr Fox’s counter-claims.

She said: “Mr Fox’s labelling of Mr Blake and Mr Seymour as paedophiles was, on the evidence, probabilities and facts of this case, seriously harmful, defamatory and baseless.

“The law affords few defences to defamation of this sort.

“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.”

Simon Blake (left), Nicola Thorp and Colin Seymour (right) arriving at the Royal Courts Of Justice
Simon Blake (left), Nicola Thorp and Colin Seymour (right) arriving at the Royal Courts Of Justice (PA)

However, Mrs Justice Collins Rice did not make a ruling on whether describing Mr Fox as “a racist” is “substantially true”, after finding the three tweets in his counter-claim were unlikely to cause serious harm to his reputation.

She said: “I am very much aware that Mr Fox would have liked to leave court with a clear determination that he ‘is not a racist’, Ms Thorp with a determination that it is substantially true that he is, and Mr Blake and Mr Seymour with an endorsement that at least they genuinely thought so and an honest person could have thought so too.

“But the entire case is, in that sense at least, all about contested views of what does and does not amount to being ‘a racist’.”

The judge continued: “Mr Fox’s principal project is to put his views and challenges about racism to the UK electorate in the political arena.

“That, rather than a court of law, is in any event likely to be the determinative last word in relation to his reputation on such matters, given the path down which he has set.

“His world view and his politics are not on trial in these proceedings, only the factual impact of what he said, and what was said about him, on this particular occasion.”

London Mayoral election
Laurence Fox previously ran for Mayor of London in 2021 (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

During a trial in London in November, Mr 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”.

However, Patrick Green KC, representing Mr Fox, told the court that neither Mr Blake nor Mr Seymour “has suffered any actual, real-world consequences” due to the actor’s tweets.

Mr 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”.

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.