Equity agrees out-of-court settlement with Laurence Fox after ‘disgrace’ comment

Actors’ union Equity has apologised for calling Laurence Fox a “disgrace” and agreed an out-of-court settlement with the ex-Lewis star.

The comment was made in a series of tweets after the 41-year-old discussed, on the BBC’s Question Time earlier this year, the media’s treatment of Meghan Markle.

A source close to Fox told the PA news agency it had been a “very difficult period for him and his family”.

Equity apologised in a statement, saying “it did not intend to suggest that the actor should be denied the ability to work”.

The union announced on Twitter: “We are sorry that in the tweets he was called a ‘disgrace’ by Equity.

“It was a mistake for Equity as an organisation to criticise him in this way.

“Nothing in Equity’s later statement was intended as a slur on his character or views, or to suggest that he should be denied the ability to work. We would like to make that clear.

“Equity and Laurence Fox condemn prejudice unequivocally in all its forms.”

A source close to Fox told PA that an out-of-court settlement had been agreed.

“Equity have finally apologised and agreed an out-of-court settlement with Laurence after calls for him to be ‘unequivocally denounced’ by the Equity Minority Members’ Committee,” the source said.

“He is pleased and grateful to Equity for this decision. He looks forward now to moving on in his professional and personal life after what has been a very difficult period for him and his family.”

Fox had complained to his fans that “Equity called (amongst other things) for actors to denounce me”, saying it had “been very hard to deal with”.

Following the apology, he said: “Hopefully this might (be) an opportunity for us to continue to celebrate diversity in all its forms. Including diversity of opinion.”

But Equity’s apology sparked conflict within the organisation.

The tweets calling Fox a “disgrace” were posted by Equity’s Minority Ethnic Members’ Committee (renamed the Race Equality Committee).

Chairman Daniel York Loh announced that he has resigned from his position, saying the apology was “not in my name”.

“Equity and Laurence Fox can issue as many joint statements and apologies as they like. It’s nothing to do with me and I apologise for nothing #NotInMyName,” he wrote on Twitter.

The committee said that “all members of Equity’s recently renamed Race Equality Committee (formerly the Equity Minority Ethnic Members Committee) feel we have no choice but to resign as committee members”.

Fox sparked controversy when he responded to a claim from an audience member that the media’s treatment of the Duchess of Sussex amounted to “racism”.

“It’s not racism … we’re the most tolerant, lovely country in Europe,” the star, part of the Fox acting dynasty, said.

“It’s so easy to throw the charge of racism and it’s really starting to get boring now.”

The audience member then described Fox as a “white, privileged male”, to which he responded: “To call me a white, privileged male is to be racist.”

The episode received more than 250 complaints and sparked a social media backlash, which Fox called “water off a duck’s back”.

Fox, who was previously married to actress Billie Piper, said he had received death threats and had suffered from “temporary insomnia” after his appearance.

He later hit out at black and working-class actors for complaining about the industry once they have “five million quid in the bank” before saying he was signing off Twitter because “I have to turn this noise off for a while”.