Ruling due in Laurence Fox High Court libel battle over social media row

Laurence Fox is set to discover the outcome of his High Court libel battle with two people he referred to as paedophiles on social media in a ruling on Monday.

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 celebrate Black History Month.

The Lewis star – who founded the Reclaim Party – counter-sued the pair and actress Nicola Thorp over tweets accusing him of racism.

Mr Fox said at the time he would boycott Sainsbury’s, accusing it of promoting “racial segregation and discrimination”.

Mrs Justice Collins Rice is due to issue her written ruling over the case on Monday.

Nicola Thorp
Nicola Thorp claimed that Laurence Fox had ‘outed himself as a racist’ (Lauren Hurley/PA)

During a trial in London in November, Mr Fox was described was an alleged “intelligent racist with an agenda”.

Lorna Skinner KC, representing Mr Blake, Mr Seymour and Ms Thorp, said the trio “honestly believed, and continue honestly to believe, that Mr Fox is a racist”.

She said the actor “has made a number of highly controversial statements about race”, adding: “If and to the extent that Mr Fox has been harmed in his reputation, it is his own conduct and not the claimants’ comments on it that caused that harm.”

The barrister highlighted several of Mr Fox’s social media posts, including a June 2022 tweet of four pride flags arranged in the shape of a swastika.

In his written evidence for the case, Mr Seymour, a Canadian artist, said he had faced “overwhelming and distressing” abuse after Mr Fox’s tweet, adding that he felt less safe as a drag performer.

Mr Blake, now chief executive of Mental Health First Aid England, said the incorrect suggestion that gay men were paedophiles was “a trope as old as the hills”.

Broadcaster Nicola Thorp claimed that Mr Fox had “outed himself as a racist” with a tweet calling for a boycott of the supermarket.

She said that any reputational harm Mr Fox suffered “was because of what he did, not because of what I said”.

Patrick Green KC, representing Mr Fox, told the court neither Mr Blake nor Mr Seymour “has suffered any actual, real-world consequences” due to the actor’s tweets.

The barrister said the posts did not cause people to think worse of Mr Blake and Mr Seymour, and that people did not believe they were paedophiles.

Instead, Mr Green said readers would have understood that Mr Fox’s posts were a “retort to an allegation of racism” rather than a factual allegation.

Mr Fox told the court he was “horrified” when he saw he had been called a racist, which he later described as “a career-ending word and a reputation-destroying allegation”.

He said his life was “destroyed” by “hurtful” racism allegations and he was left unable to get a mortgage.

The actor said he faced a “significant decline” in the number and quality of roles he was offered after he was accused of being a racist in the social media row.

Mrs Justice Collins is expected to issue her ruling at 3pm.