Laurence Fox has lost his High Court libel battle (Picture: Nick Edwards)
A judge has ruled that Laurence Fox did libel people on social media.
His two victims – who he referred to as paedophiles – faced him as he appeared at the High Court over tweets he wrote about them in 2020.
The judge found that the accusations he made against Stonewall trustee Simon Blake and drag artist Crystal (real name Colin Seymour) were ‘seriously harmful, defamatory and baseless’.
An online argument started in October that year when the Reclaim Party founder called for a boycott of Sainsbury’s after they announced plans to provide a safe space for black employees during Black History Month.
In response to the boycott, Fox was called a racist by Crystal, Blake and actress Nicola Thorp.
The former GB News presenter counter-sued the pair, as well as Thorp, over tweets accusing him of racism.
The case is about an exchange on X, formerly Twitter, in 2020 (Picture:PA)
Fox accused Sainsbury’s of promoting racial segregation and discrimination in the post.
Today, Mrs Justice Collins Rice did not make a ruling on whether or not Fox was ‘a racist’, after finding the three tweets in his counter-claim were unlikely to cause serious harm to his reputation.
She said: ‘I am very much aware that Mr Fox would have liked to leave court with a clear determination that he is not a racist, Ms Thorp, with a determination that it is substantially true that he is, and Mr Blake and Mr Seymour with an endorsement that at least they genuinely thought so and an honest person could have thought so too.
‘But the entire case is, in that sense at least, all about contested views of what does and does not amount to being “a racist”.
‘Mr Fox’s principal project is to put his views and challenges about racism to the UK electorate in the political arena.
‘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.’
The judge ruled Fox did libel the two men he referred to as ‘paedophiles’ (Picture: Leon Neal/Getty Images)
The judge described Fox’s ‘paedophile’ slur as ‘seriously harmful, defamatory and baseless,’ continuing: ‘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.
‘This judgment therefore stands as the beginning of the legal vindication to which (Simon) Blake and (Colin) Seymour are entitled, as successful defamation claimants.’
She added that the issue of damages and any other remedies would be discussed at a later date.
Speaking outside the Royal Courts of Justice, Laurence Fox described the ruling in his libel case as a ‘nothing burger’.
He said: ‘It means that we’re going to have to go back to court, to appeal, to get a meaning of this word.
‘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.’
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.’
During a trial in London in November, Fox was described as an alleged ‘intelligent racist with an agenda’.
Fox – who denies being a racist – told the hearing in London in November that the trio’s posts were ‘an organised pile on designed to destroy my career and [that’s] exactly the result that it was intended to do’.
In her tweet, Thorp alleged that ‘any company giving future employment to Laurence Fox, or providing him with a platform, does so with the complete knowledge that he is unequivocally, publicly and undeniably a racist’.
Lorna Skinner KC, representing Blake, Seymour and Thorp, said the trio ‘honestly believed, and continue honestly to believe, that 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 Fox has been harmed in his reputation, it is his own conduct and not the claimants’ comments on it that caused that harm.’
Fox used to be married to Billie Piper (Picture: David M. Benett/Getty Images for St Martins Lane)
The barrister highlighted several of 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, Seymour, a Canadian artist, said he had faced ‘overwhelming and distressing’ abuse after Fox’s tweet, adding that he felt less safe as a drag performer.
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 Thorp claimed that Fox had ‘outed himself as a racist’ with the tweet calling for a boycott of the supermarket.
Patrick Green KC, representing Fox – who denies he is a racist – told the court neither Blake nor Seymour ‘has suffered any actual, real-world consequences’ due to the actor’s tweets.
He is now largely known for his controversial politics (Picture: PA)
The barrister said the posts did not cause people to think worse of Blake and Seymour, and that people did not believe they were paedophiles.
Instead, Green said readers would have understood that Fox’s posts were a ‘retort to an allegation of racism’ rather than a factual allegation.
Fox is more famed for his controversial opinions these days than his acting roles in films such as Becoming Jane.
Last year, Fox was sacked from GB News after he went on a vile misogynistic rant about a female journalist Ava Evans.
On Dan Wootton’s Tonight show on September 26, Fox described Joe political correspondent Ava Evans as a ‘little woman’ and added: ‘Who would want to shag that?’
His sacking came just hours after he was arrested on suspicion of ‘conspiring to commit criminal damage to ULEZ cameras,’ the Met Police told Metro.co.uk at the time.
Fox rose to fame in various films and TV shows, including series Inspector Lewis, A Room With a View, which he starred in alongside Helena Bonham Carter, and Gosford Park.
He was previously married to Billie Piper from 2007 to 2016.
Got a story?
If you’ve got a celebrity story, video or pictures get in touch with the Metro.co.uk entertainment team by emailing us email@example.com, calling 020 3615 2145 or by visiting our Submit Stuff page – we’d love to hear from you.