Defamation trial begins for British actor who called 'family-friendly' drag queen and queer activist 'pedophiles' in response to being called 'a racist' on Twitter

The bench trial started Wednesday for British actor-turned-polemical political activist Laurence Fox who was sued for libel by two queer activists after calling them “paedophiles” in a spat on then-Twitter in October 2020. In the heated exchange, former deputy chair of LGBTQ activist group Stonewall and a drag queen named "Crystal" repeatedly made claims that Fox was a “racist,” for which he countersued the pair.

"Crystal," whose real name is Colin Seymour, was a contestant on the British season one of RuPaul’s Drag Race. He courted controversy back in July when he was filmed dancing in front of an audience of “horrified” parents and children at a family theme park called Adventure Island in Essex, where he is seen mimicking masturbation using an angle grinder from his crotch.

Laurence Fox's trial is taking place at the Royal Courts of Justice in central London

Fox, who was a well-known Britsh actor, has said that the public allegations of racism cost him his acting agent and jobs.

The dispute in the lawsuit began when he called for a boycott of Sainsbury’s supermarket in 2020 over their declaration of support for Black History Month in which they announced they were offering "safe spaces" for black workers.

British supermarket chain Sainsburys announced 'safe spaces' for their black workers in 2020

Fox responded: "I won't be shopping in your supermarket ever again whilst you promote racial segregation and discrimination. I sincerely hope others join me. RT”

Fox's post prompted a Twitter spat between him and the plaintiffs, where he was called a "racist" and in turn, he called them "paedophiles."

Laurence Fox's girlfriend Liz Barker sat next to him during the first day of trial. Photo from a prior event.

Barrister Lorna Skinner KC, who is representing plaintiffs Blake, Seymour and Nicola Thorp, told the court the three "honestly believed, and continue honestly to believe, that Mr Fox is a racist.”

"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,” she said in her opening statement to Justice Collins Rice, the judge in the case.

Patrick Green KC, the barrister for Fox, said that Blake and Seymore have not “suffered any actual, real-world consequences" from the actor’s posts calling them "paedophiles" and that social media users understood these were a "retort to an allegation of racism.”

In regards to his client, he stated: "The allegation of being 'a racist' will have been looked upon very seriously by many of Mr Fox's actual and potential colleagues... He is not a racist, he is a color-blind liberal who dislikes racism, 'progressive' and identitarian politics."

In the opening remarks of both parties the first day of the trial, Skinner suggested that Fox "had never sought to suggest there was a basis for anyone to believe that any of the claimants were paedophiles," a sentiment that Green completely agreed with.

Green also echoed his remarks in written submissions pre-trial in his opening argument that "there were a small number of trolls and people in the Twitter-sphere" who did attempt to defame Blake and Seymour. However, he said, the narrative settled more in their favor as prominent UK publications such as Daily Mail were quick to side against Fox.

Plaintiff Simon Blake is the former deputy vice chair of trans activist group, Stonewall

The court was reportedly shown a list of Fox's acting opportunities which had dwindled from 52 in 2019 to 4 in 2021 and 2022. Some of these squandered opportunities were, notably, an appearance on The Masked Singer and a role on Succession.

Cross-examination of Blake from Green also during day one revealed that Sainsbury's had made several donations to charities that Blake also supports. It was found that Blake formed his opinions of Fox being "racist" based on his public criticisms of Sainsbury's alone and he had not actually visited the market's website to investigate the subject matter or even knew about their support of "safe spaces" for black people before he made his claims that Fox was racist.

Plaintiff Colin Seymour is a transvestite who performs under the name 'Crystal'

Stonewall made a statement on their website their support of Blake. The group has come under fire by women's rights activists and some gay and lesbians for what they view as the organization pandering to radical trans activism in recent years. The UK Department of Health ended its consultancy relationship with the group in 2021 and has since ordered the NHS to scrutinize their paid membership in Stonewall. 

The trial is set to end next week with a decision coming at a later date by the judge.

Image: Title: Laurence Fox


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