British actor Laurence Fox has lost a libel case with two men he called pedophiles on social media after they had called the My Son Hunter star a racist.
On Monday, the High Court in the U.K. deemed that Fox had defamed Simon Blake, a former LGBT charity trustee, and Crystal, a drag artist and former RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant, on Twitter/X in October 2020, when he called them pedophiles over an escalating row over Black History Month.
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The Guardian reports that the spat on X started, when Fox said he would boycott U.K. grocery store Sainsbury’s for supporting “racial segregation and discrimination” after the company said it would establish safe spaces for Black employees during Black History Month in October 2020. Blake and Crystal, whose real name is Colin Seymour, responded to Fox’s call for a boycott by calling him racist. Fox, in turn, replied to several X users by calling them pedophiles, including Blake and Seymour.
After Blake and Seymour sued Fox for defamation, the actor countersued, claiming that being accused of racism was a career-ending allegation.
During the trial, Fox, who starred in Elizabeth: The Golden Age and Becoming Jane, had claimed he lost out on acting work due to the racism accusations against him. The Guardian reports that under cross-examination, Fox suggested that there were contexts in which the phrase, “I hate Black people,” was not racist. Fox said: “If a man is just released from a Ugandan jail where he’s been gang-raped by several men, and he walks out, and he goes: ‘I hate Black people’, it’s a sort of understandable response.”
A longtime critic of Black Lives Matter, Fox had also dismissed the social movement as “a grift,” telling the court that “all lives matter” and insisting that he had been subject to anti-white racism.
High Court judge Justice Collins Rice said Fox’s labeling of Blake and Seymour was “harmful, defamatory and baseless.” The Guardian reports that the judge did not make a ruling on whether describing Fox as “a racist” is “substantially true,” after finding that the three tweets cited in his counterclaim were unlikely to cause serious harm to his reputation.
On Tuesday, in a lengthy post on X, Fox tweeted that he would consider an appeal, although he added, “I feel utterly bereft and totally hopeless.”
The legal defeat is the latest in a series of setbacks for the scandal-plagued Fox, who has seen his acting career effectively come to an ignominious end as he increasingly leaned into hard right politics as a self-styled anti-woke crusader.
A scion of the famed Fox acting family — his father is BAFTA-winner James Fox, his uncles are The Day of the Jackal star Edward Fox and the film and theater producer Robert Fox, his brother is the actor Jack Fox (Sanditon), and he is related to Emilia Fox (Silent Witness) and Freddie Fox (Slow Horses) — Fox was seemingly destined to become an actor and has been described as a “nepo baby.”
After attending the exclusive school Harrow and graduating from the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, Fox achieved success in the 2000s and early 2010s, starring in the ITV detective series Lewis, several period dramas, as well as the features The Hole (2001), Gosford Park (2001) and Madonna’s W.E. (2011).
The prolific start to his film and TV career didn’t continue, however, and Fox’s screen credits dried up in the mid-2010s. His marriage to the actress and singer Billie Piper ended in divorce in 2016, and he pivoted to music, releasing his debut album Holding Patterns that same year. It was during the promotion of his second album, A Grief Observed, in 2019 that Fox became better known for making incendiary and racially charged comments on social media and in TV appearances. In an infamous January 2020 appearance on the BBC’s Question Time panel show, he claimed racism wasn’t a problem in the U.K. and accused an audience member of racism for calling him a “white privileged male.”
Failing to gain traction as a recording artist — Fox’s 2019 song “The Distance” is his most streamed on Spotify with approximately 162,000 streams currently — he pivoted once more as a political commentator and right-wing activist. He was a prominent anti-lockdown voice on social media during the COVID-19 pandemic and regularly, and controversially, opined on hot-button issues of race, religion and immigration, including posting a picture on social media of the pride flag fashioned as a swastika in June 2022 during Pride Month and posting picture of himself in blackface on X in August 2023.
In 2020, he founded the right-wing populist Reclaim Party and then twice ran for elected office, failing spectacularly on both occasions. In 2021, he came sixth in the London mayoral elections with less than 2 percent of the vote and in 2023 he came in fourth place in a special election for a seat in Parliament.
Despite his misfiring political ambitions and being constantly engulfed in controversy, Fox was, until recently, getting sporadic work, mainly for right-wing media. In the U.K. he hosted a show on the Fox News-like GB News, but was fired in September 2023 for misogynistic comments about a female journalist. His last credited film work saw him star as Hunter Biden in the 2022 Breitbart News feature My Son Hunter, which was directed by Goonies actor Robert Davi and co-starred Gina Carano, who was dropped from Disney+’s The Mandalorian following her series of controversial social media posts.
My Son Hunter was not reviewed by THR, but in a New Yorker review, critic Naomi Fry wrote, “The Hunter character is a laughable degenerate, but the drawn-faced Fox has little of the actual Hunter’s arguable good looks and charisma.”
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