The boss of a prominent LGBT rights charity is suing Laurence Fox after the actor called him a paedophile on Twitter.
Simon Blake, deputy chair of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights charity Stonewall, was engaged in a social media spat with Fox on Sunday.
It was sparked after Fox had told his 241,000 followers he was boycotting his local Sainsbury’s because the supermarket chain is celebrating Black History Month, accusing it of “promoting racial segregation and discrimination”.
When Blake wrote his own tweet in response, calling Fox “a racist ****”, Fox replied: “Pretty rich coming from a paedophile.”
Blake tweeted Fox on Sunday evening, asking him to remove his tweet “as you know it to be untrue”.
On Monday afternoon, Blake tweeted again, announcing that he is suing Fox for defamation.
I detest racism. Challenging it is important to me, but I will choose my words more carefully in future. I want to be the best ally I can to people impacted by racism. pic.twitter.com/QhQgkCZBLB— Simon Blake (@Simonablake) October 5, 2020
Blake tweeted: “I detest racism. Challenging it is important to me, but I will choose my words more carefully in future. I want to be the best ally I can to people impacted by racism.”
In an attached statement, he wrote: “On Sunday afternoon I saw a tweet from Laurence Fox suggesting that he would stop shopping in Sainsbury's and calling on others to do the same. This was his reaction to Sainsbury's statement that they are an inclusive retailer.
“I disagreed strongly with his view and I expressed that in a tweet. Whilst I regret the unnecessary language I used, which is not in line with the way I like to conduct myself, I feel strongly about this issue.
“In response Mr Fox seriously defamed me and I have instructed Mark Lewis from Patron Law to sue for defamation.”
Lewis is the lawyer who represented food blogger Jack Monroe in her successful Twitter libel case against columnist Katie Hopkins in 2017.
Fox later deleted his tweets, posting his own statement on Twitter on Monday.
He wrote: “I have deleted the tweets posted yesterday, in response to being repeatedly, continuously and falsely smeared as a racist, as they just serve as a distraction to the important work that needs to be done.”
Fox has just launched his own political party, Reclaim, after a year in which he has been dogged by controversy.
In January, he made an appearance on BBC1’s Question Time in which he argued that the Duchess of Sussex had not been subjected to racism by the British media.
Watch: Laurence Fox makes controversial appearance on Question Time
Later that month, he said he will not date women who are “woke” or under 35.
In February, the actor announced he was quitting social media for the sake of his career, but later returned to Twitter.
In April, Fox mocked “sunbathing police” who were patrolling parks during the coronavirus lockdown.
In the tweet that led to criticism from Fox, Sainsbury’s said: “We are proud to celebrate Black History Month together with our black colleagues, customers and communities and we will not tolerate racism.
“We proudly represent and serve our diverse society and anyone who does not want to shop with an inclusive retailer is welcome to shop elsewhere.”