Laurence Fox considering appeal after losing High Court libel battle

Laurence Fox considering appeal after losing High Court libel battle

Laurence Fox has said he hopes to appeal after losing 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 judgment on Monday, 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.”

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

Laurence Fox libel case
Laurence Fox made a statement outside the Royal Courts of Justice after the ruling (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

“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.”

Speaking outside the Royal Courts of Justice, Mr Fox described the ruling as a “nothing burger” and said that “here we are sat, two million bloody quid in”.

Mr Fox added he plans to appeal against the ruling to get a meaning of the word racist.

He said: “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.”

Mr Fox continued: “Racism as a term is used just as a point of disagreement, and a point of ‘I don’t like you, therefore you’re a racist’.

“This is a great, wonderful country and I admire and I respect this country, and I fight for it and I fight for my children and I fight for everybody else out there who doesn’t have my platform who gets called these vicious slurs, and I just want a definition of the word.”

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)

During a trial in London in November, Mr Fox said he faced a “significant decline” in the number and quality of roles he was offered after he was accused of being a racist.

But in the 41-page ruling, Mrs Justice Collins Rice said it would be “extremely long odds” for the trio’s tweets to have caused the current state of his acting career, or other serious harm.

She continued: “It is not only what he says, but how he says it, that regularly ignites controversy around Mr Fox, deliberately or otherwise.”

“There are indeed choices to be made about the exercise of free speech, and there are consequences,” the judge added.

Monday’s ruling was welcomed by Ms Thorp and Mr Seymour.

In a statement posted on X, formerly Twitter, the drag artist said: “Ironically for Mr Fox, this victory is a victory for free speech.

“The freedom to express an opinion and not be sued for doing so. Free speech does not cover factual allegations of criminality such as paedophilia.”

Mr Seymour added: “This judgment unequivocally states that his tweet was defamatory and that it caused me harm. I am very happy to have this finalised and 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.”