Laurence Fox attacked drag star Crystal’s personal, emotional, financial, and physical safety when he libellously called her a paedophile on Twitter in 2020.
This week a judge ruled that the groundless accusation Fox, 45, made against Stonewall trustee Simon Blake and Drag Race UK star Crystal three years ago was ‘seriously harmful, defamatory and baseless’.
‘I hope this is some kind of reminder that defamation laws exist in this country and that there are consequences,’ Crystal says.
The former GB News presenter – who was sacked from the right-wing news channel after he went on a vile misogynistic rant on national television in September – accused Sainsbury’s of racial segregation and discrimination in the post.
Crystal is having her say
‘I hope this is some kind of reminder that defamation laws exist in this country and there are consequences’ (Picture: BBC/ Leigh Keily / Matt Burlem)
In response, Crystal, Blake and Metro.co.uk columnist Nicola Thorp called him a racist in the online exchange. Fox then labelled Crystal and Blake paedophiles. They sued him for libel.
He countersued for the racism accusation and lost.
On January 29, after years of fighting, stress, and abuse, Crystal and her fellow defendants won the High Court case on all counts. She’s relieved beyond measure after an exhausting three-year fight.
‘Beyond the harm that he caused me, I’m really happy for this judgment because it really makes the point that this language isn’t acceptable, and hopefully it will prevent other people from experiencing what I’ve experienced,’ Crystal reflected on hearing the judge’s words.
For two gay men – Crystal, real name Colin Seymour, and Blake – being called a paedophile is particularly loaded, given the age-old homophobic trope that wrongly associates their sexuality with this unrelated, heinous crime.
‘He knew what he was doing,’ says Crystal of Fox, who claimed to be unaware of their sexuality before publishing.
‘He knew it was particularly damaging because we’re gay men,’ the TV star added.
But it was a ‘doubly damning’ accusation for Crystal as a gay man and a drag artist.
It was ruled that Laurence Fox did libel Crystal (Picture: Nick Edwards)
The Drag Race UK star has suffered three years of hell (Picture: BBC/ Leigh Keily / Matt Burlem)
‘More and more people equate people who are gender non-conforming, or people who do drag, or the trans community, as especially dangerous to children,’ Crystal explained.
‘It’s one of those words that, once it’s levelled against you, just sticks until your name is cleared.’
Since Fox’s libellous post, Crystal has experienced ‘flare-ups’ of hate against her.
‘It’s typically whenever I find myself engaging with an audience who aren’t necessarily from my community who don’t know my good intentions, or are able to twist what they see of me,’ she explained.
‘It’ll be the comment section of an article I write, or a video of me will get put on lips of Tik Tok, and it all just comes up. It’s horrible.
‘Every time it happens, you think, “This is the time I get doxed. This is the time my life is actually going to be threatened or endangered.”‘
Thankfully, Crystal has not experienced hate in the form of physical violence. But he’s been threatened with violence in person.
Apart from fearing for her physical safety, Crystal has existed in emotional and financial limbo for three years now.
‘There’s that old saying, “There’s no smoke without a fire,” and you worry that people will – not necessarily believe it – but take a second to wonder, and maybe their opinion of you drops, or they worry, or they think, “Oh, I wanted to get Crystal for that event, or for that gig,” or, “We wanted to book Crystal with this, but it’s a bit risky, because we don’t know if that’s true or not.”
‘It’s impossible to measure the total damage that something like that can cause.’
In court, Crystal describes how the room ‘shifted’ and ‘groaned’ whenever Fox made some of his more outrageous comments.
Crystal describes having to watch the former actor for three days in the box saying and doing ‘ludicrous’ things including trying to do the Haka – twice – defending blackface, and using the N-word while making a point.
Fox used the N-word in court to make a point (Picture: Leon Neal/Getty Images)
‘It was outrageous, it was so shocking,’ Crystal says, wincing. ‘Hearing him say that it might be okay to say, “I hate Black people,” if you’d just got out of Ugandan male prison and been gang raped, just like ludicrous, insane things.
‘He cannot – for the life of him – draw any connection to saying those kinds of things and the damage that he’s done to his own career. He’d still attempting to just pin it all on us.’
Fox is not going to change, Crystal thinks – partly because there’s too much at stake economically for the former actor at this point.
‘Fox is being funded and bankrolled to be this person,’ Crystal says. ‘He admitted on the stand that he was being paid £250,000 a year by Reclaim Party to be this voice.’
Crystal hopes the ruling and her three years from hell will help de-platform Fox.
‘I’m not saying he needs to be barred from social media, but I wish he’d stopped making the news.’
In the end, it was worth it. Crystal is glad she sued Fox, despite sacrificing her personal safety in the process.
‘It’s all been worth it. I’m proud of myself, and for clearing my name,’ she says. ‘But I’m also proud that this is a win for the whole LGBTQ+ community who don’t have to take this anymore either.’
The queen said the ordeal had been worth it (Picture: PA)
Fox said outside the courts – in between lighting cigarettes and calling the judge’s ruling a ‘nothing burger’ – that he was going to appeal the decision. To do this, he would have to get approval.
‘He’s either just pushing a narrative of martyrdom that he’s hoping will stoke his base, or he’s completely deluded and is incapable of any self-reflection,’ Crystal says.
‘Either way, I don’t want to come back into court with that man.’
Although another court case isn’t on the horizon, yet, Crystal has to watch free-speech defenders – an ironic banner to fly given Fox’s libel against Crystal – voicing support for the former actor on social media.
Does Crystal have any parting words for these people?
‘Oh, God, I just don’t… I can’t even get into that mindset. I look at Twitter and I look at the comments on his posts and I just don’t understand how these people can be real.
‘What would I say..? Wake up. Wake the f**k up.’
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