Laurence Fox urged to settle libel case after ‘paedophiles’ Twitter row

Laurence Fox has been urged to settle a libel suit over a "pointless" exchange in which he called three people "paedophiles" on Twitter.

The actor is being sued by Simon Blake, a former Stonewall trustee, Coronation Street actress Nicola Thorp and drag artist Crystal after referring to them as "paedophiles" during an online row in October last year.

Mr Fox – who founded the Reclaim Party and stood as a candidate in the most recent London mayoral election – is counter-suing the trio over tweets accusing him of racism.

The case is set for trial unless the parties can resolve the dispute out of court, and a ruling on Wednesday revealed that Mr Fox is "minded to" ask for it to be decided by a jury rather than a judge, now highly unusual in defamation cases.

‘There are more useful ways in which the parties could expend their energy and resources’

Senior Master Barbara Fontaine said: "It would seem incredible to most ordinary people that the parties are prepared to spend what could amount to hundreds of thousands of pounds on such a pointless exchange.

"There are many more useful ways in which the parties, all apparently intelligent and talented people, could expend their energy and resources. I urge them to consider seriously how they might find a way to reach a compromise and end this dispute."

The judge said Mr Fox’s solicitors estimate that his legal costs will be about £500,000 if the case is heard in two stages, and about £360,000 if it is heard in a single full trial – but this would increase to about £490,000 if it is a jury trial.

Mr Fox called both Mr Blake and Crystal, a former RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant whose real name is Colin Munro Seymour, "paedophiles" in an exchange about Sainsbury’s decision to celebrate Black History Month. He used the same label against Ms Thorp in a different thread.

Mr Blake called Mr Fox a "racist t—" but later said he regretted using such language.

Mr Fox used the launch of the manifesto for his London mayoral campaign to defend his right to call people "paedophiles" on Twitter, citing free speech and claiming it is a "meaningless and baseless" insult.

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