Laurence Fox is being sued for libel by a charity boss, a drag star and an actress after calling them “paedophiles” during a Twitter spat.
The actor is currently running for London mayor in May’s election with his Reclaim party.
Who is the London mayoral candidate, and what has he said? Here’s everything you need to know.
Who is Laurence Fox?
Laurence Fox is an actor who has appeared in numerous films, TV shows and stage productions - but has become better known for his controversial views on social media.
In acting terms, he is best known for playing the supporting role of DS James Hathaway in ITV drama Lewis. He has also appeared in series three of Victoria as Lord Palmerston, 2020 Netflix mystery thriller White Lines, and ITV’s 2008 miniseries Wired.
Fox was married to I Hate Suzie star Billie Piper from 2007 to 2016.
In a 2019 interview with The Times, Fox said that he had been “totally radicalised” by consumption of YouTube videos about “woke culture” and “political correctness”.
In January 2020 Fox drew criticism after discussing the “oddness in the casting” of a Sikh soldier in the BAFTA-winning film 1917, desribing it as “forcing diversity”. He later apologised “for being clumsy” in the way he expresses his opinion.
However, the actor later appeared on BBC’s Question Time, where he made headlines following heated interactions with members of the audience. During the show Fox said that Meghan Markle was not a victim of racism, and described an audience member who had called him a “white privileged male” as racist.
In September 2020, Fox announced he was setting up his own political movement, the Reclaim Party. The party aims to “fight the culture wars”.
Why is Laurence Fox running for Mayor of London?
In March 2021, Fox announced he would be standing against Sadiq Khan in the 2021 London mayoral elections.
If victorious, the actor said he would lift the lockdown the day after the polls close on 6 May - despite the power to do so solely resting with the prime minister.
His manifesto also promises free Tube and bus travel for six months after lockdown, although the proposal would likely bankrupt Transport for London.
According to bookmakers William Hill, Fox has a one in 250 shot of becoming the capital’s mayor.
Why is Fox being sued for libel?
Laurence Fox is being sued for libel after he called three people “paedophiles” on Twitter.
The libel case has been brought by mental health campaigner Simon Blake, RuPaul’s Drag Race star Crystal, and actress Nicola Thorp.
In October 2020, Fox announced on Twitter he would be boycotting Sainsbury’s because they “support racial segregation and discrimination” in reference to the store establishing safe spaces for black employees.
Sainsbury's later clarified that the safe spaces were online support groups established in response to Black Lives Matter.
After feeling “falsely smeared as a racist”, Fox replied to a number of tweets reacting to his announcement by calling their authors “paedophiles”. Two of those people were Crystal and Simon Blake.
In a separate Twitter threat, Fox also labelled Thorpe as a “paedophile”.
At the time, Crystal said: "An accusation of paedophilia is one of the oldest homophobic tropes, and it was very shocking to have that levelled at me, not just by Mr Fox, but also his many followers who believed him.
"I may have had to endure homophobic bullying as a child, but I will not tolerate it as an adult."
The trio have instructed law firm Patron Law on their defamation lawsuit. Crystal and Blake initially threatened legal proceedings last year, but officially filed the claim in the High Court on 1 April.
Fox has defended his comments, claiming the term “paedophile” was a “meaningless and baseless” insult.
During his manifesto launch (7 April) for his London mayoral campaign Fox said he was unaware of the defamation case.
He said: “Free speech. You throw meaningless and baseless insults at someone you get a meaningless and baseless insult in return."
“People can call me whatever they want,” he added.