Laurence Fox’s life was “destroyed” by “hurtful” racism allegations and was left unable to get a mortgage, the actor has told the High Court.
The Reclaim Party founder entered a witness box on the fourth day of a libel trial in London over an exchange on Twitter, now known as X, about a decision by Sainsbury’s to provide a safe space for black employees during Black History Month.
Mr Fox called for a boycott of the supermarket in October 2020 and was called “a racist” by the drag artist Crystal, former Stonewall trustee Simon Blake and actress Nicola Thorp.
The 45-year-old subsequently termed each of the trio as a “paedophile”, prompting the libel action by Mr Blake and the drag star, also known as Colin Seymour.
Mr Fox, who denies being a racist, is counter-suing the trio over their tweets and started his evidence in London on Monday morning.
In his written evidence, the actor said he was “horrified” when he saw he had been called a racist, which he later described as “a career-ending word, and a reputation-destroying allegation”.
He continued: “It was very hurtful, firstly as it is not true, and secondly because it was baseless: it felt as if the claimants had posted it to try and destroy me. I felt that one of the most important things I had in this world was my good name, and they were trying to ruin it.”
In a 24-page statement, the Lewis star – who said he does not consider himself to be a “traditionally handsome or hunky” actor – claimed by 2020 he was earning at least £500,000 to £600,000 per year from acting.
However, Mr Fox said his “life was destroyed by what they did”, and that he had become a target.
The court heard that on two occasions after the claim against him was filed, faeces were posted through Mr Fox’s door.
He said his ex-wife Billie Piper was “concerned” that their two children were no longer safe in the house, adding: “I thought she had every right to feel that way, every mother would be worried.”
The actor also said his professional life was “irreparably harmed, if not destroyed”, with the loss of his former acting agent Sue Latimer and a dramatic drop in his income.
Mr Fox said: “Without the prospect of work from her and the income from it, I couldn’t get a mortgage.
“The only income I earned at that point was from the Reclaim Party. To this day I haven’t bought a house, I only received one mortgage offer very recently, and it was far too high and wouldn’t have been worth my while to take it.”
Mr Fox later said he has faced similar issues to Nigel Farage being “debanked”, with his bank “regularly questioning” legitimate transactions and claimed his car insurance premium increased by nearly £9,000.
He added in his witness evidence he had a “vibrant and busy” work life before the tweets and before Ms Latimer dropped him, he was asked to audition for roles including Batman and Succession, and “multiple other Netflix, Disney+ and HBO productions”.
He continued: “It’s a source of incredible sadness to me that my skill set, which has been highly trained, used at great length over 23 or 24 years – it’s just been completely put away.”
Earlier in the trial, Lorna Skinner KC, representing Mr Blake, Mr Seymour and Ms Thorp, said the trio “honestly believed, and continue honestly to believe, that Mr Fox is a racist”.
In written submissions, the barrister said Mr Fox “has made a number of highly controversial statements about race”, adding: “If and to the extent that Mr Fox has been harmed in his reputation, it is his own conduct and not the claimants’ comments on it that caused that harm.”
In his evidence discussing his call for a boycott of Sainsbury’s, Mr Fox said the supermarket had been “essentially emotionally blackmailing their customers” and that he has not shopped there since.
He continued: “I felt that rather than genuinely trying to tackle racism, Sainsbury’s were trying to improve their own image, branding themselves as the anti-racist supermarket.
“I see the phrase ‘safe space’ as just locally friendly language for discrimination by segregation, dividing people down the line of skin colour.”
Mr Fox added that he believes Black History Month is “a grift, designed to make black people feel like they’re in some way undervalued in our society” and called the Black Lives Matter movement “extremely divisive”.
Later discussing comments he had made about the Duchess of Sussex and the reaction she received from the media, Mr Fox said in his written evidence: “I felt at the time, and still feel, that attributing all of the issues the Duke and Duchess of Sussex faced to racism is lazy.”
He later added in his oral evidence that, at first, “I didn’t think she (Meghan) was mixed race, I thought she was tanned… not that it makes any difference”.
Ms Skinner previously highlighted several of Mr Fox’s social media posts, including a June 2022 tweet of four pride flags arranged in the shape of a swastika.
“Such a disgusting post could only be made by a complete ignoramus or an intelligent racist with an agenda. Mr Fox is the latter,” she said.
However, Mr Fox said he does not have a problem with people of different sexualities, adding: “The streets of London are covered with the Pride flag, yet nobody is allowed to criticise it.
“I was making the point that the only other flag in history that society was not allowed to criticise was the Nazi flag.
“I am obviously a major advocate for free speech so do not believe it is right we should live in fear of being cancelled for disagreeing with a flag.”
The trial before Mrs Justice Collins Rice is due to conclude later this week with a decision expected at a later date.
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