Drag star ‘very vindicated’ after Laurence Fox libel damages ruling

A drag star who successfully sued Laurence Fox for libel feels “very vindicated” as the actor-turned-politician was ordered to pay £180,000 in total damages.

Mr Fox was sued by drag artist Crystal and former Stonewall trustee Simon Blake over a row on Twitter, now known as X.

The Reclaim Party founder called the performer, whose real name is Colin Seymour, and Mr Blake, “paedophiles” in an exchange about a decision by Sainsbury’s to mark Black History Month in October 2020.

In a judgment in January, Mrs Justice Collins Rice ruled in favour of Mr Blake and Mr Seymour, dismissing Mr Fox’s counter-claims against the pair and broadcaster Nicola Thorp.

And in a ruling on Thursday, the judge said Mr Fox should pay Mr Blake and Mr Seymour £90,000 each in damages.

Following the judgment, Mr Seymour told the PA news agency that it had been “quite emotional” to read the decision.

The drag artist said: “The judge really recognised, I think, what an ordeal this has been and the length of time this has taken.

“There was something about seeing someone else recognise that in writing that was really, really satisfying to read.

“That’s actually, in a way, as satisfying as the financial award, which is never the reason why I got into doing this.”

The former RuPaul’s Drag Race UK contestant said he would not have done anything differently “knowing what I know now”.

Mr Seymour continued: “In a way, there’s no going back for me since deciding to fight this.

“It’s really exposed me to a lot of horrible people and a lot of horrible opinions.

“But I also feel that it shows that there are consequences to using this kind of language.”

Laurence Fox libel case
Laurence Fox made a statement outside the the Royal Courts of Justice, central London, after the original ruling in January (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

The performer added it had become “very commonplace” for people on social media to use terms such as “groomer” and “paedo” and that even after the ruling on Thursday, someone had accused him of being a danger to children.

Mr Seymour thanked the people who had shown support over the legal case, adding: “Whenever a victory has been announced, the outpouring of support has just been so sensational.

“It’s been so fantastic to feel that and also just to feel like it’s a win for the entire community.

“I hope that this emboldens more people to stand up for themselves.”

After Thursday’s judgment, Mr Fox posted on X that he would be seeking an appeal, describing the ruling as “so surreal it’s almost funny”.