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Laurence Fox loses High Court libel case over social media row

Laurence Fox outside court
Mr Fox said he hopes to appeal his counter-claim

Laurence Fox has lost a High Court libel case with two people he called paedophiles on social media.

The actor-turned-politician was sued by former Stonewall trustee Simon Blake and drag artist Crystal.

In an exchange on X, formerly Twitter, about a decision by Sainsbury's to mark Black History Month, Mr Fox referred to the two as "paedophiles".

High Court judge Mrs Justice Collins Rice said Mr Fox's labelling was "harmful, defamatory and baseless".

She said he did not attempt to show the court that these allegations were true and that "the law affords few defences to defamation of this sort."

In his written evidence for the case, Crystal, a former RuPaul's Drag Race contestant and whose real name is Colin Seymour, said he had faced "overwhelming and distressing" abuse after Mr Fox's tweet.

He added that he felt less safe as a drag performer as a result of Mr Fox's allegations.

Mr Blake, now chief executive of Mental Health First Aid England, said the incorrect suggestion that gay men are paedophiles is "a trope as old as the hills".

Appeal plan

Reclaim Party founder Mr Fox, who said at the time that he would boycott the supermarket, counter-sued Mr Blake and Mr Seymour, over tweets accusing him of racism.

Mr Fox also attempted to sue broadcaster Nicola Thorp for the same reason.

However, the judge did not make a ruling on whether describing Mr Fox as "a racist" was "substantially true", after finding the three tweets in his counter-claim were unlikely to cause serious harm to his reputation.

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

He said: "It means that we're going to have to go back to court, to appeal, to get a meaning of this word.

"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."

Weight lifted

In a statement posted on X after the verdict, 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."

He added: "I hope it will make some difference in the ongoing demonisation of queer people as 'groomers' or 'dangerous'.

"This is a lesson: we will not take it."

Ms Thorp wrote on X: "It's time that Mr Fox accepted that any damage to his reputation is entirely his own doing."

Mr Fox hosted a weekly GB News show until recently, when he was sacked after an outcry about comments he made on air about a female journalist.

Previously, he was known for his acting work, with high-profile roles such as DS James Hathaway in the ITV series Lewis, the spin-off detective show from Inspector Morse, which ended in 2015.

The 45-year-old, who has two children with his ex-wife Billie Piper, has dedicated more of his time to politics in recent years.

In 2021 he unsuccessfully stood for London mayor as The Reclaim Party's candidate. He also stood in the Uxbridge and South Ruislip by-election in June, a seat previously held by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson.