Charity leader files defamation claim against Laurence Fox after 'paedophile' slur

Simon Blake, chief executive of the community interest company Mental Health First Aid England and deputy chair of Stonewall, has launched the legal action with two others

Laurence Fox (Photograph: Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
Laurence Fox (Photograph: Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)

Simon Blake, chief executive of the community interest company Mental Health First Aid England, has formally launched legal proceedings against the actor and London mayoral candidate Laurence Fox.

Blake announced his intention to sue the actor-turned-aspiring politician in October after Fox called Blake “a paedophile” on Twitter.

Blake, who is deputy chair of the LGBT charity Stonewall, filed the defamation lawsuit with the High Court on 1 April, in conjunction with RuPaul's Drag Race star Crystal and Coronation Street actor Nicola Thorp, who said they were subjected to the same slur by Fox on Twitter.

Blake confirmed to Third Sector that the lawsuit had been filed, but declined to comment further.

The Twitter row with Blake, Crystal and Thorp began after Fox tweeted that he would no longer be shopping at Sainsbury’s and encouraged others to boycott the retailer after it tweeted about its plans to recognise Black History Month and said anyone who did not appreciate its inclusive stance was “welcome to shop elsewhere”.

Sainsbury’s tweet included a link to a page saying the retailer had made “safe spaces” for black workers to talk about the issues thrown up by the Black Lives Matter protests, which later tweets by the supermarket confirmed were online forums.

Fox said this was tantamount to “racial segregation and discrimination”.

Blake shared Fox’s tweet with the comment: “What a mess. What a racist twat”, to which Fox responded: “Pretty rich coming from a paedophile.”

In a statement at the time, Blake told Third Sector that he had “disagreed strongly” with Fox’s comments about Sainsbury’s, but he regretted the “unnecessary language” used.

Fox later deleted his tweet about Blake, and similar ones about Thorp and Crystal.

In a statement on Twitter at the time, Fox said the tweets had been posted “in response to being repeatedly, continuously and falsely smeared as a racist”.

He said: “If the game nowadays is to throw baseless insults and accusations about, then we should all be free to participate.”

Third Sector was unable to reach Fox for comment.

He is running for Mayor of London on an anti-lockdown platform for his newly formed political party Reclaim, which, he said when it launched, was started to “fight the culture wars”.

In October, the Manchester-based youth charity Reclaim, which works to end the inequality that prevents working-class young people from fulfilling their leadership potential, launched legal proceedings to prevent Fox using its name. These are ongoing.


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