Charity leader set to sue actor Laurence Fox over 'paedophile' slur

Simon Blake says Fox 'seriously defamed' him in a since-deleted tweet

Laurence Fox (Photograph: David M Benett/Getty Images)
Laurence Fox (Photograph: David M Benett/Getty Images)

Simon Blake, the chief executive of the community interest company Mental Health First Aid England, is set to sue the actor-turned-aspiring politician Laurence Fox for defamation after Fox called Blake “a paedophile” on Twitter. 

Blake, who is also chair of the LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall, told Third Sector Fox had “seriously defamed” him and confirmed he had instructed a lawyer.

Yesterday, 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”. He made a similar accusation about former Coronation Street actress Nicola Thorp. 

In a statement, Blake told Third Sector that he had “disagreed strongly” with Fox’s comments about Sainsbury’s and “expressed that in a tweet”. 

He went on to say: “While I regret the unnecessary language I used, which is not in line with the way I like to conduct myself, I feel strongly about this issue. 

“In response, Mr Fox seriously defamed me and I have instructed Mark Lewis from Patron Law to sue for defamation.”

His statement also said: “I want to make it absolutely clear that I will always stand against racism and will do my best to be a strong white ally.

“This is particularly important because we know the negative impact that racism and oppression has on the mental health and wellbeing of black people and people of colour.”

Fox deleted his tweets about Blake and Thorp this morning. 

In a statement on Twitter, Fox said: “If the game nowadays is to throw baseless insults and accusations about, then we should all be free to participate.

“Having said that, I have deleted the tweets posted yesterday, in response to being repeatedly, continuously and falsely smeared as a racist, as they just serve as a distraction to the important work that needs to be one.”

Fox has recently gained notoriety after his appearance on the BBC show Question Time in January, in which he said that hearing complaints from people of colour about racism was “boring” before complaining that he himself was experiencing racism in being described as “a white privileged male”.

Since then he has made a series of inflammatory comments about race and racism in the UK and announced plans to found his own political party, which he reportedly intends to name Reclaim.

But the Reclaim Project, a charity supporting young working class people in Manchester, accused Fox of attempting to “appropriate” its name and said it would be making representations to the Electoral Commission to prevent him from doing so.

“Too often attention-seekers try to divide working class communities to distract from the real issues we’re facing, like the lack of decent jobs, homes and a proper safety net,” it said in a statement. 

“The young people at Reclaim are proof that when working class people – white, black, brown, from cities, towns and rural areas – unite and focus on what really matters, we deliver positive change, not division. 

“Needless to say, we’ll be arguing strongly to the Electoral Commission that when it comes to ‘Reclaim’, working class people were here first.”

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