Laurence Fox libel trial to begin with people he referred to as paedophiles

Laurence Fox’s libel battle with two people he referred to as paedophiles on social media is to reach trial.

The actor-turned-politician is being sued by former Stonewall trustee Simon Blake and drag artist Crystal over a row on Twitter, now known as X, in October 2020.

Mr Fox called Mr Blake and the former RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant, whose real name is Colin Seymour, “paedophiles” in an exchange about a decision by Sainsbury’s to celebrate Black History Month.

The Lewis star – who founded the Reclaim Party – is counter-suing the pair and actress Nicola Thorp over tweets accusing him of racism.

Mr Fox said at the time he would boycott Sainsbury’s, accusing it of promoting “racial segregation and discrimination”.

A trial, expected to last a week, will begin on Wednesday at the High Court in London with Mr Fox due to give evidence.

The 45-year-old previously made a bid for a jury to decide the case rather than a judge, which is now highly unusual in defamation cases.

However, Mr Justice Nicklin denied Mr Fox’s request in a ruling in May 2022.

Mr Fox’s barrister Alexandra Marzec had said a jury would be better at reaching fair verdicts “in light of the cultural and social context of this case”, adding that judges could be subject to “involuntary bias”.

Mr Justice Nicklin said in his written judgment: “The defendant has not satisfied me that a fair-minded and informed observer would conclude that there was a real possibility that a judge trying this case alone would suffer from ‘involuntary bias’.

“The fair-minded and informed observer must be taken to know that, faithful to his/her judicial oath, the judge in this case would be required to apply the law to the determination of the issues in the case, without fear or favour, affection or ill-will.”

The trial before Mrs Justice Collins Rice is set to begin at 10.30am.