Laurence Fox ordered to pay £180,000 after calling two people paedophiles on Twitter

Laurence Fox
Laurence Fox became embroiled in a row with the two claimants about a decision by Sainsbury's to mark Black History Month

Laurence Fox has been ordered to pay a total of £180,000 in damages to two people he referred to as paedophiles on social media after losing a High Court libel battle.

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

Mr Fox called Mr Blake and Crystal, who is a 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 in October 2020.

The Reclaim Party founder counter-sued the pair and broadcaster Nicola Thorp over tweets accusing him of racism.

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

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

She said: “By calling Mr Blake and Mr Seymour paedophiles, Mr Fox subjected them to a wholly undeserved public ordeal. It was a gross, groundless and indefensible libel, with distressing and harmful real-world consequences for them.”

At a hearing in March, Lorna Skinner KC, for Mr Blake and Mr Seymour, had said the pair should receive “at least six-figure sums” from Mr Fox, calling a suggestion the pair should only receive a “modest” award “nonsense”.

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

Massive reporting

During the hearing in March, Mr Green also said there was no need for the Lewis actor to publicise the ruling decision on his social media.

He said in written submissions: “This has been the most high-profile libel action of the year and both the trial and the judgment were massively reported in the media.... There can be few, if any, original publishers in the present case who will be unaware of its outcome.”

The barrister added: “The outcome of this long-running case literally could not be better known than it is already.

“For whatever passing doubts or vague suspicions that may have at some time subsisted in the minds of readers, only a modest financial award in compensation should be due.”

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.”

Mrs Justice Collins Rice declined to make an order requiring Mr Fox to publish a summary of the judge’s decision on his Twitter account.

Ahead of Thursday’s ruling, Mr Fox described the original judgment as a “bullies charter” and said he disagreed “profoundly” with the result.

He said in a post on X: “I don’t know what the judge will award these people. But the costs of these proceedings are enormous. So a whopper of a cheque is getting written in the next few days.”

Mr Fox added: “We are seeing the courts used maliciously across the West and that is a very concerning trend. So enjoy the victory guys and I hope it is short lived!”