Assault on Drag Race UK star The Vivienne was homophobic attack, court rules

LGBTQ
The Vivienne posing for a photoshoot.

A magistrates’ court has ruled that the assault on the Drag Race UK star The Vivienne was motivated by homophobia, despite the defendant’s claims to the contrary.

Fifty-one-year-old Alan Whitfield admitted to assaulting the drag star, whose out-of-drag name is James Lee Williams, after entering a McDonald’s restaurant on Edge Lane in Liverpool, on 16 June.

During the trial, Whitfield claimed that the attack, in which he punched Williams in the face, was not motivated by homophobia but by what he described as “banter”.

Liverpool Magistrates’ Court ultimately ruled the attack was indeed motivated by “hostility towards a perceived sexuality”.

During testimony, 31-year-old Williams said he was subjected to a “barrage of abuse” from Whitfield after entering the fast food restaurant.

“He [Whitfield] carried on, then after the fourth ‘look at the state of you’ I said ‘look at the state of you’, I said ‘look at the state of your face’, to which he said ‘I’ve got skin cancer’ and then punched me straight in the face.”

The Drag Race UK star, who took home the crown in the first series in 2018, argued that the attack was motivated by homophobia because there were “countless other people” in the McDonald’s at the time.

“Why didn’t he start on anyone else?” Williams asked. “Why did he choose to publicly humiliate me and then hit me, if it wasn’t for my image or me being quite evidently gay?”

During a 999 call, which was played to the jury, Williams said: “He obviously knew I was gay, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist.”

Prosecuting attorney Thomas Quirk, said: “In reality, Mr Whitfield, the spark that lit the fire was you presuming he was a homosexual male.”

Assault against The Vivienne was homophobic ‘beyond reasonable doubt’

In response, Whitfield claimed he was not homophobic, saying: “I’ve got members of my family mate that will disrepute that.”

He continued that the assault “was nothing to do with him being gay”, reiterating that he has LGBTQ+ members of his family.

Whitfield said that he hit Williams after the remarks made about his face, which has reportedly been scarred from skin cancer, saying he was “very hurt, very very angry”.

In response, Williams apologised for the remark, saying: “For that I truly apologise, that must have hurt, that was never intended.”

After court deliberation, chairman of the bench, Anthony Canning said that Whitfield’s evidence was “not credible”.

“Having considered this incident from beginning to end, we believe beyond reasonable doubt that the hostility shown by yourself from that outset was motivated and down to the perceived sexuality of the complainant and this was homophobic in nature.”

Upon leaving the court, Whitfield said: “Joke. Bulls**t. Where’s the hate crime for my cancer?”

Whitfield will be sentenced on 3 January 2024.

Anyone who has witnessed or experienced a hate crime is urged to call the police on 101, Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or visit the True Vision website. In an emergency, always dial 999.

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