Actor-turned-politician Laurence Fox has found himself embroiled in a legal battle resulting in a significant financial blow after being ordered to pay £180,000 in damages. The case stemmed from Fox’s use of social media to label two individuals as “paedophiles.”

Former Stonewall trustee Simon Blake and drag artist Crystal, formerly known as Colin Seymour, took legal action against Fox over remarks made during a heated exchange on X, formerly known as Twitter. The dispute arose during a discussion surrounding Sainsbury’s decision to recognise Black History Month in October 2020, wherein Fox referred to Mr. Blake and Crystal as “paedophiles.”

Despite Fox’s attempt to counter-sue Mr. Blake, Crystal, and broadcaster Nicola Thorp for tweets alleging racism, his claims were dismissed by Mrs. Justice Collins Rice in a previous ruling in January. Today’s ruling upheld this decision, compelling Fox to pay £90,000 to each of the plaintiffs, totalling £180,000 in damages.

Mrs. Justice Collins Rice condemned Fox’s actions, stating, “By calling Mr. Blake and Mr. Seymour paedophiles, Mr. Fox subjected them to a wholly undeserved public ordeal.” She emphasised the seriousness of the libel, describing it as “gross, groundless, and indefensible,” with tangible repercussions for the victims.

The judge clarified that the awarded damages were solely compensatory, aiming to redress the harm inflicted by Fox’s libellous statements. Additionally, Fox was prohibited from repeating similar allegations under the threat of being held in contempt of court.

During the legal proceedings, arguments were presented regarding the appropriate amount of damages. Lorna Skinner KC, representing Mr. Blake and Mr. Seymour, advocated for substantial compensation, while Patrick Green KC, representing Fox, argued for a lower amount, citing an apology from Fox and the absence of malice.

Despite the ruling, Fox remained defiant, criticising the judgement as a “bullies’ charter” and announcing his intention to appeal. He expressed disbelief at the verdict, describing it as “surreal” on social media.

Regarding the dissemination of the ruling, the judge declined to compel Fox to publish a summary on his social media account, citing extensive media coverage of the case.

The legal saga underscores the consequences of irresponsible behaviour on social media platforms and highlights the importance of accountability for public figures.

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