Laurence Fox told to pay £180,000 in libel damages

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By Jeremy Culley
BBC News

Laurence Fox has been ordered to pay £90,000 in damages each to two people he referred to as “paedophiles”.

The actor-turned-politician lost a High Court libel case with former Stonewall trustee Simon Blake and drag artist Crystal.

The remarks on X, formerly Twitter, came in an exchange about Sainsbury’s marking Black History Month.

Mrs Justice Collins Rice said the comments were “gross, groundless and indefensible”.

Reclaim Party founder Mr Fox – who said at the time that he would boycott Sainsbury’s – counter-sued the pair over tweets accusing him of racism and attempted to sue broadcaster Nicola Thorp for the same reason.

In January, the court ruled in favour of Mr Blake and former RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant Crystal, whose real name is Colin Seymour, and dismissed Mr Fox’s counter-claims.

The judge did not make a ruling on whether describing Mr Fox as “a racist” was “substantially true”, after finding the three tweets in his counter-claim were unlikely to cause serious harm to his reputation.

On Thursday, Mrs Justice Collins Rice said in her written ruling: “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.

“They are entitled by law to an award of money, to compensate them for those damaging effects, and to ensure that they can put this matter behind them, vindicated and confident that no-one can sensibly doubt their blamelessness of that disgusting slur and that they were seriously wronged by it.”

The judge said there was “no element” of punishment for Mr Fox in the judgement, with the damages due “purely compensatory”.

She said Mr Fox could be found guilty of contempt of court if he repeated the allegations against Mr Blake and Mr Seymour.

Mrs Justice Collins Rice said she accepted evidence from both of them that they experienced Mr Fox’s libel as “distinctively homophobic”.

The judge added that Mr Fox had tried to “attach blame and discredit” Mr Blake and Mr Seymour during the litigation, and hold them responsible “for a range of his own life’s adversities”.

She said the damages could have been a “multiple” higher had his victims not been “self-possessed, articulate, resourceful and resilient”, and had “powerful support publicly and privately” to avoid their lives and prospects being “ruined” by the ordeal.

Mr Fox, 45, unsuccessfully stood for London mayor in 2021 and went on to host a weekly GB News show before he was sacked in October last year over comments made on air about a female journalist.

He previously made his name as an actor, starring in ITV series Lewis, and is part of the well-known Fox acting family, which includes cousins Emilia and Freddie, brother Jack, father James and grandfather Robin. He has two children with ex-wife Billie Piper.

Ahead of Thursday’s ruling, Mr Fox described the original judgement 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.”

29 January


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