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The Vivienne: Attack on celebrity drag star was homophobic, court rules | UK News

today01/12/2023

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An assault on celebrity drag star The Vivienne in a McDonald’s was motivated by homophobia, despite his attacker’s claims it came after “banter” turned violent, magistrates have ruled.

Alan Whitfield, 51, admitted assault by beating on James Lee Williams, who performs as drag queen The Vivienne, but denied that it was homophobic.

Whitfield claimed he had “banter” with the star, who won the first series of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK and came third in Dancing On Ice earlier this year, because he thought he looked like an Oompa Loompa from the film Charlie And The Chocolate Factory.

Speaking during a trial of issue at Liverpool Magistrates’ Court on Friday, Mr Williams said he had been subjected to a “barrage of abuse” from Whitfield after entering the McDonald’s on Edge Lane in Liverpool on 16 June.

Mr Williams, who gave evidence from behind a screen, said: “He 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 31-year-old said he dressed in a “flamboyant” way and was used to “looks” and “stares”, but things had never before reached the point they did on the day of the assault.

He said: “There were countless other people in the branch of McDonald’s that day, why didn’t he start on anyone else? 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?”

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

But Whitfield, who was working as a scaffolder at the time, told the court his attention had been drawn to Mr Williams because of his dyed green hair.

The defendant said he asked him: “What have you come as, an Oompa Loompa?”

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Whitfield, who was asked to explain to magistrates what an Oompa Loompa was, said the remarks were “banter” and claimed he did not know Mr Williams was gay, or see a handbag he was carrying.

He said he hit Mr Williams after he pointed out marks on his face from skin cancer.

He said: “I was very hurt, very very angry.”

In his evidence, Mr Williams accepted pointing out marks on Whitfield’s face and responding when he told him he had skin cancer by saying: “Made up for you.”

He told the court: “For that I truly apologise, that must have hurt, that was never intended.”

After retiring to deliberate, chairman of the bench Anthony Canning said: “Having considered this incident from beginning to end, we believe beyond reasonable doubt that the hostility shown by yourself from the outset was motivated and down to the perceived sexuality of the complainant and this was homophobic in nature.”

As he left the court, Whitfield said: “Joke. Bulls***. Where’s the hate crime for my cancer?”

Whitfield, of Tom Mann Close, Liverpool, will be sentenced on 3 January.



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