Laurence Fox ordered to pay £180,000 after referring to two people as 'paedophiles'

Laurence Fox has been ordered to pay £180,000 in damages after he referred to two people as "paedophiles" on social media.

The actor-turned-politician was successfully sued by former Stonewall trustee Simon Blake and drag artist Crystal over a row on X.

After losing a High Court libel battle, it means he will have to pay out £90,000 to each of them.

Fox called Mr Blake and Crystal, a former RuPaul's Drag Race contestant whose real name is Colin Seymour, "paedophiles" in an exchange they had over Sainsbury's decision to mark Black History Month in October 2020.

The Reclaim Party founder said at the time he would boycott the supermarket and he attempted to counter-sue the pair, along with broadcaster Nicola Thorp, over tweets accusing him of racism.

In a previous judgement in January, Mrs Justice Collins Rice dismissed Fox's counter-claims and ruled in favour of Mr Blake and Mr Seymour.

In today's ruling, the judge said Fox should pay out £180,000.

"By calling Mr Blake and Mr Seymour paedophiles, Mr Fox subjected them to a wholly undeserved public ordeal," the judge said.

"It was a gross, groundless and indefensible libel, with distressing and harmful real-world consequences for them."

The judge added: "There is no element of punishing Mr Fox in that; it is a purely compensatory award to redress the damage done and restore the equilibrium that his libels violated, and which he has not taken the opportunity to restore more fully himself.

"Mr Blake and Mr Seymour have been successful in fighting for their legal rights and are entitled to the law's effective vindication.

"They have also been resilient and resourceful in trying to get on with the rest of their lives and have had strong support at home, in the workplace and in some quarters of the public and media to help them do so.

"Had that not been so, and Mr Fox's random selection of victims turned out to be less self-sufficient and well-supported individuals, this award would have had to have been considerably higher."

Fox was also ordered not to repeat the same, or similar allegations, on pain of being found guilty of contempt of court.

The judge also accepted evidence from Mr Blake and Mr Seymour that they experienced Fox's libel as "distinctly homophobic".

At a hearing in March, Lorna Skinner KC, for Mr Blake and Mr Seymour, argued the pair should receive "at least six-figure sums" from Fox.

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However, Patrick Green KC, for Fox, said the starting point of the damages should be between £10,000 and £20,000, with the total being "substantially lowered" due to an apology from Fox and the alleged absence of malice.

Ahead of Thursday's ruling, Fox claimed the judgement was a "bullies' charter". He added: "Enjoy the victory guys and I hope it is short lived!"

In the aftermath, he posted on X, saying the judgement was: "So surreal it's almost funny."

He added: "Will be appealing."

The judge declined to make an order forcing Fox to publish a summary of the ruling on his X account, where he has almost half a million followers.

During the hearing in March, Mr Green said that there was no need to publicise the ruling on Fox's social media because "this has been the most high-profile libel action of the year".

Mr Green added: "The remarks were quickly retracted and apologised for, and at the very least it was clear to the public at large at an early stage that the allegation was baseless."