Drag queen who called Lawrence Fox ‘racist’ tells libel trial he ‘was not attempting to ruin’ the actor’s career and was simply ‘calling out his behaviour’ in Twitter row
- Fox is being sued by drag artist Crystal and ex-Stonewall trustee Simon Blake
- But he is counter-suing the pair and Coronation Street actress Nicola Thorp
A drag queen being sued by Laurence Fox for accusing him of racism told a court he was ‘calling out behaviour I saw as racist’ and wasn’t trying to ruin the actor’s career.
Fox is accused of defamation by former Stonewall trustee Simon Blake and drag queen Colin Seymour, known as Crystal, for calling them ‘paedophiles’ on Twitter.
But 45-year-old Fox, who is founder of the Reclaim Party, is counter-suing the pair and Coronation Street actress Nicola Thorp, 35, after they branded him a ‘racist’ in response to a post by the supermarket Sainsbury’s celebrating Black History Month.
Former GB News presenter Fox is best known for playing DS James Hathaway in the ITV series Lewis and was formerly married to Doctor Who actress Billie Piper.
He claims he called the trio paedophiles as a ‘baseless and meaningless’ insult in response to them ‘baselessly’ calling him racist in October 2020. But Seymour and Blake claim the insult was based on what they perceive as Fox’s homophobic tropes.
Laurence Fox arrives at the Royal Courts of Justice in London today for the trial to continue
Seymour, a contestant in season one of the BBC3 show RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, gave evidence at the High Court in London today wearing a grey suit with flared trousers and one earring.
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Patrick Green, KC, representing Fox, showed Seymour a video of Fox being interviewed by Julia Hartley-Brewer on TalkTV where he admitted he called the trio paedophiles.
He also suggested he regretted the insult, saying ‘two wrongs don’t make a right’.
Mr Green asked Seymour whether he had taken this as an apology.
Seymour said he would have expected a much longer apology with Fox stating what he had done wrong.
‘The fact it’s an allegation that’s been repeated to me for three years, including two nights ago dozens of times, shows the effect,’ he said.
Seymour was asked if he disagreed with Fox’s statement that most people in the UK are good.
‘No I don’t disagree with that, I disagree with his characterisation of patriotism as only focusing on the good,’ he said.
‘I would also call myself a patriot and therefore think it’s important to advocate for a better country for everyone.’
Mr Green asked if this was the source of his disagreement with Fox. ‘No, the source of my disagreement with Fox is that he called me a paedophile’, Seymour replied.
‘I disagree with his characterisation of “racist” as being a baseless insult and that being an attempt to shut down conversation.
‘I think it’s reasonable in a country of free speech to have conversations about if things we think and feel are influenced by racism. I don’t think it’s an insult particularly, it’s a basis for conversation.
Laurence Fox arrives at the Royal Courts of Justice yesterday with his girlfriend Liz Barker
‘You are well aware calling someone a racist or outing them as racist can have extremely serious consequences,’ Mr Green said.
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‘Sure,’ Seymour replied. He added: ‘The idea I was attempting to ruin his career by calling him a racist is offensive – I was calling out behaviour I saw as racist which I think I was within my rights to do.
‘It had nothing to do with animosity or ruining Mr Fox’s life, I was calling out behaviour.’
Seymour said he had fairly been accused of racism himself in the past and had apologised and moved on.
‘I have a much broader understanding of the word racism than an outright hostility to someone because of their ethnicity.
‘But I think deriding a post about Black History Month does demonstrate some hostility towards people who are black, yes.’
Mr Green showed him messages he had sent friends in the weeks after the comments saying many did not indicate he had been caused distress by Fox’s comment.
Seymour said he sometimes ‘played down’ his distress and sometimes he didn’t.
In one message he told a friend there were ‘literally dozens of tweets calling me a paedo and a nonce – people are rabid and scary’.
‘Really doesn’t bother me personally but gross to know these people are out there.’
He said: ‘I think the fact people are checking in on me because of what happened indicates it was probably quite distressing – that something unpleasant was happening to me at the time.’
Mr Green suggested Seymour was saying he did not feel distressed.
The Canadian replied: ‘I think saying people are rabid and scary and that it’s gross to know all those people are about indicates a level of fear and distress.’
Simon Blake (left), Nicola Thorp (centre) and Colin Seymour (right) arriving at court yesterday
Seymour created a group chat called ‘Crystal vs LF’, the court heard.
In another message he said ‘unexpected Sunday drama – no biggie’.
A friend sent a message saying she was ‘excited’ Seymour was taking Fox on.
Seymour told the court: ‘Yes a lot of people felt Mr Fox was racist at that point – a lot of people felt the same way I did that he was a racist.’
Seymour then said in a message: ‘Imagine being married to Billie Piper and holding these views – the cognitive dissonance that this requires.’
Bespectacled Fox sat behind his barristers in court in a navy suit.
Thorp, pregnant with her first child, wore a red dress and grey coat sat next to Blake.
The trial, before Mrs Justice Collins Rice, is due to conclude next week with a decision expected at a later date. The hearing continues.
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