Stonewall deputy chair Simon Blake has announced he's suing actor Laurence Fox for a tweet in which he called him a "paedophile."
The comment came after Blake, who has worked with the LGBTQ+ charity since 2015, called out Fox for his response to a Black History Month tweet by the supermarket brand Sainsbury's.
When Blake said of Fox "What a mess. What a racist t***", Fox reportedly replied: "Pretty rich coming from a paedophile".
Blake replied asking Fox: "Please would you remove this tweet as you know it to be untrue. Thanks."
Blake also tweeted: "Seems that Mr Fox may have mixed me up with someone else so for the avoidance of doubt I am 46 from Cornwall and I have lived in Cornwall, Cardiff and London."
Fox did not initially delete the tweet, and speaking out last night, Blake tweeted: "On Sunday afternoon I saw a tweet from Laurence Fox suggesting that he would stop shopping in Sainsbury's and calling on others to do the same. This was his reaction to Sainsbury's statement that they are an inclusive retailer.
Stonewall's Simon Blake (Picture: Provided by Stonewall)
"He suggested that Sainsbury's actively anti-racist stance is promoting racial segregation and discrimination.
"I disagreed strongly with his view and I expressed that in a tweet. Whilst I regret the unnecessary language I used, which is not in line with the way I like to conduct myself, I feel strongly about this issue.
I detest racism. Challenging it is important to me, but I will choose my words more carefully in future. I want to be the best ally I can to people impacted by racism. pic.twitter.com/QhQgkCZBLB— Simon Blake (@Simonablake) October 5, 2020
"In response Mr Fox seriously defamed me and I have instructed Mark Lewis from Patron Law to sue for defamation.
"I want to make it absolutely clear that I will always stand against racism and will do my best to be a strong White ally.
"This is particularly important because we know the negative impact that racism and oppression has on the mental health and wellbeing of Black people and People of colour."
What a mess. What a racist twat. https://t.co/I4cXzZRdZk— Simon Blake (@Simonablake) October 4, 2020
The tweet in question from Fox has now been deleted.
Addressing the row, Fox later tweeted: "If the game nowadays is to throw baseless insults and accusations about, then we should all be free to participate.
"Having said that, I have deleted the tweets posted yesterday, in response to being repeatedly, continuously and falsely smeared as a racist, as they just serve as a distraction to the important work that needs to be done."
"Anyone who does not want to shop with an inclusive retailer is welcome to shop elsewhere"
Sainsbury’s original tweet said: “We are proud to celebrate Black History Month together with our Black colleagues, customers and communities and we will not tolerate racism.
“We proudly represent and serve our diverse society and anyone who does not want to shop with an inclusive retailer is welcome to shop elsewhere."
Dear @sainsburys— Laurence Fox 🇭🇰 (@LozzaFox) October 4, 2020
I won’t be shopping in your supermarket ever again whilst you promote racial segregation and discrimination.
I sincerely hope others join me. RT#BoycottSainsburys
Further reading here 👇https://t.co/drimdbOzRG https://t.co/I4DOdCuiPl
Fox responded by saying: "Dear @sainsburys I won’t be shopping in your supermarket ever again whilst you promote racial segregation and discrimination. I sincerely hope others join me. RT #BoycottSainsburys."
"Calling gay men ‘paedophiles’ is a homophobic slur that has a long, dark history"
In a statement, Nancy Kelley, Chief Executive of Stonewall said today: "We’re proud to stand in solidarity with our Deputy Chair Simon Blake in his case against Laurence Fox. At Stonewall we believe that it’s important for white people to challenge racism when we see it, and be staunch allies to people of colour.
"Calling gay men ‘paedophiles’ is a homophobic slur that has a long, dark history of being used to paint us as threats to children and stop us from being treated as equal citizens. Using it to silence a gay man standing up for racial justice just demonstrates how far we have to go before we can say that we live in a society where we are all valued, and can live our lives in safety and dignity."
Attitude has approached Laurence Fox for comment.
(Top picture: ITV/Provided by Stonewall)