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Simon Blake and Crystal (Colin Seymour) awarded £90,000 each in libel claim against Laurence Fox

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The Claimants, Simon Blake and Colin Seymour, succeeded in their libel claim against Laurence Fox and (with Nicola Thorp) in the dismissal of his counterclaim in libel against them in a judgment handed down on 29 January 2024. The issue of remedies was reserved. Following a hearing on 22 March 2024, Collins Rice J has now ruled that Mr Fox must pay each of Mr Blake and Mr Seymour £90,000 in damages and has granted an injunction prohibiting Mr Fox from repeating the allegation that either was a “paedophile” or making any similar allegations.

In reaching this decision, Collins Rice J took account of the harm caused to Mr Blake and Mr Seymour prior to the hand-down of the liability judgment and to the conduct of Mr Fox before and after the hand-down of that judgment. They had been forced to fight a libel claim all the way to trial

with every single conceivable point being taken against them and being forced to deal with counterclaims of precisely the kind that Parliament intended, in passing section 1 of the Defamation Act 2013, to deter.  They have done so under the sustained hailstorm of Mr Fox’s exercise of his rights of amplified free speech, and if they (or at any rate Mr Seymour) have sometimes tried to make their own voices heard above the din and exercise their own rights to free speech, that has been an occasion of further hailstones….Where vindication is not volunteered, and all the more where any vindication is heavily overqualified and collaterally undermined, it must be completed by way of damages”.

Collins Rice J noted that the gravity of the libels was so serious that it also engaged the Claimants’ rights to private and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Although Mr Fox had not repeated these allegations, the characteristics of Mr Fox’s public utterances and his “sustained animus” against Mr Blake, Mr Seymour and Nicola Thorp indicated a “clear risk” that he would do so.

Collins Rice J further noted that Ms Thorp, a defendant to Mr Fox’s failed counterclaim, had experienced that animus “most of all” and that she and Mr Seymour had suffered “humiliating further commentary” by Mr Fox.

Mr Blake, Mr Seymour and Ms Thorp were represented at trial in the High Court by Lorna Skinner KC, leading Beth Grossman; the late Heather Rogers KC represented the Claimants at the earlier hearings in the High Court and the Court of Appeal. Mark Lewis of Patron Law was the instructing solicitor.