Laurence Fox ordered to pay £180,000 damages to two people he labelled 'paedophiles' on social media

25 April 2024, 14:24 | Updated: 25 April 2024, 15:30

Laurence Fox labelled two men "paedophiles" on social media
Laurence Fox labelled two men "paedophiles" on social media. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Laurence Fox has been ordered to pay £180,000 damages to two people he labelled "paedophiles" on social media.

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The actor-turned-politician was sued by former Stonewall trustee Simon Blake and drag artist Crystal over the row on Twitter.

Fox called Mr Blake and the former RuPaul's Drag Race contestant, whose real name is Colin Seymour, "paedophiles" in a clash over a decision by Sainsbury's to mark Black History Month in October 2020.

He counter-sued the pair over tweets accusing him of racism.

Read more: 'Playing the victim': Laurence Fox hits back at ex-wife Billie Piper after co-parenting complaints

Read more: Billie Piper breaks silence on ex-husband Laurence Fox six years after their divorce

Laurence Fox outside the Royal Courts of Justice
Laurence Fox outside the Royal Courts of Justice. Picture: Alamy

Mrs Justice Collins Rice ruled that Fox should pay Mr Blake and Mr Seymour £90,000 each in damages.

Her written ruling 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."

She continued: "Mr Blake and Mr Seymour have been successful in fighting for their legal rights and are entitled to the law's effective vindication.

"They have also been resilient and resourceful in trying to get on with the rest of their lives and have had strong support at home, in the workplace and in some quarters of the public and media to help them do so.

"Had that not been so, and Mr Fox's random selection of victims turned out to be less self-sufficient and well-supported individuals, this award would have had to have been considerably higher."

The judge said 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 concluded saying: "I am also ordering Mr Fox not to repeat the same or similar allegations about Mr Blake and Mr Seymour, on pain of being found guilty of contempt of court.

"He has no right whatever to do so and his track record of public utterances persuades me that this discipline is necessary and proportionate in order to ensure Mr Blake's and Mr Seymour's vindicated legal rights are fully respected for the foreseeable future."

The actor-turned-politician has been ordered to pay £90,000 in damages to each of the two people.
The actor-turned-politician has been ordered to pay £90,000 in damages to each of the two people. Picture: Alamy

In an earlier hearing in March, Lorna Skinner KC, for Mr Blake and Mr Seymour, said the pair should receive "at least six-figure sums" from Fox, adding that the suggestion that the pair should only receive a "modest" award is "nonsense".

However, Patrick Green KC, for Fox, argued that the starting point of damages should be only between £10,000 and £20,000.

He said it should be much lower due to an apology from Fox and the absence of malice.

Speaking ahead of the ruling, Fox branded the judgment as a "bullies charter" and said he disagreed "profoundly" with the result.

He posted on X, formerly Twitter, saying: "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."

He 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!"

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