A former RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant accused of being a paedophile by right-wing activist Laurence Fox has hailed a High Court ruling after a judge upheld his libel case.
The drag artist, whose real name is Colin Seymour but uses the stage name Crystal, became embroiled in a legal battle with Fox after the former actor branded Seymour and ex Stonewall trustee Simon Blake both paedophiles during a bitter social media row.
The accrimonious exchange was sparked by a decision by Sainsbury’s to provide a safe space for black employees during Black History Month, with Fox, 45, subsequently calling for a boycott of the supermarket.
In response, the pair, alongside actor Nicola Thorp, accused Fox of being a racist in Twitter/X posts, who replied using the paedophile slur.
In a ruling at the High Court on Monday (29 January), Justice Collins Rice described Fox’s labelling of the pair as paedophiles in a social media row as “seriously harmful, defamatory and baseless”.
“The law affords few defences to defamation of this sort,” she said. “Mr Fox did not attempt to show these allegations were true, and he was not able to bring himself on the facts within the terms of any other defence recognised in law.
Speaking exclusively to The Independent, Seymour said he is glad he sued Fox for defamation. The drag artist said that “anti-gay bigotry has never died” and that calling someone a paedophile is often the “first line attack”.
“For some, anti-gay bigotry never died, but they realised it had become socially unacceptable for them to express it, so now they found a new avenue where they feel emboldened and think that they’re going to get away with it.”
“Calling someone a paedophile, or groomers, or Nazis, is often the first line of attack, a new way of framing very old homophobia – and it’s all bound up in a modern ‘trans panic’.”
Seymour added that he had not “seen a second of genuine remorse or accountability or reflection” from Fox throughout the court case.
“It’s always doubling down and digging the hole deeper and, and I think until he demonstrates some actual willingness to examine his own behaviours, I can’t feel anything for him except contempt.”
Appearing on a Sky News broadcast on Tuesday (30 January), Seymour called the ruling a “victory on all counts”.
Seymour added that after more than three years of ongoing legal disputes over the matter, “it’s incredibly liberating and satisfying.
“If I had known at the outset that it’d be three and half years after this I may have thought twice. Accusations of paedophilia against people in the queer community, against drag queens – these are old old tropes and I didn’t want to stand for it.
“I didn’t want to let it slide. I needed to see it through and make it clear that there was no basis of fact to this.”
The Independent has contacted representatives of Fox, Thorp and Blake for comment.
Mark Lewis from Patron Law, the solicitor who brought the claims against Fox, told The Independent that a “disturbing” part of the case was the “thoughtless and unwarranted response” that Seymour and Blake received from “despicable followers” of Fox.
“It is hard to think of a more damaging allegation against someone, and therefore people need to be extremely careful before throwing out that allegation,” he said.
In a post online after the ruling, Seymour said: “I am incredibly relieved to have this outcome – a huge weight I’ve been carrying for over three years has just been lifted.
“I want to say again that I took no joy in bringing this case, nor did I do so lightly. Mr Fox could have made this go away very early on with a meaningful apology and settlement.”
During a trial in London in November, Fox was described as an alleged “intelligent racist with an agenda”.
Lorna Skinner KC, representing Mr Blake, Mr Seymour and Ms Thorp, said the trio “honestly believed, and continue honestly to believe, that Mr Fox is a racist”.
She said the actor “has made a number of highly controversial statements about race”, adding: “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.”
The barrister highlighted several of Fox’s social media posts, including a June 2022 tweet of four pride flags arranged in the shape of a swastika.
In written evidence for the case, Seymour said he had faced overwhelming and distressing abuse after Fox’s tweet, adding that he felt less safe as a drag performer.
Mr Blake, now chief executive of Mental Health First Aid England, said the incorrect suggestion that gay men were paedophiles was “a trope as old as the hills”.
Broadcaster Nicola Thorp claimed that Fox had “outed himself as a racist” with a tweet calling for a boycott of the supermarket. She said that any reputational harm Fox suffered “was because of what he did, not because of what I said”.
Speaking outside the Royal Courts of Justice, Fox described the ruling in his libel case as a “nothing burger”.
“It means that we’re going to have to go back to court, to appeal, to get a meaning of this word,” he said. “What is a racist? Every single person in this country knows what a racist is, except the people that dominate every single national institution that we have.”