DUP leader Arlene Foster sues Dr Christian Jessen for defamation

14 April 2021, 14:10 | Updated: 14 April 2021, 14:13

DUP leader Arlene Foster has taken Christian Jessen to court over defamation claims
DUP leader Arlene Foster has taken Christian Jessen to court over defamation claims. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

Arlene Foster has said unfounded allegations of an affair with a protection officer tweeted by TV doctor Christian Jessen have been "extremely" distressing.

The DUP Leader and Northern Ireland's First Minister told the High Court in Belfast the tweet left her "very, very upset" at having to speak to her husband of 25 years Brian about the allegations.

The mother-of-three also had to sit two of her children and her elderly mother down to discuss the allegations.

A libel hearing her Dr Jessen - best known for appearing on Embarrassing Bodies - tweeted on December 23 2019 that Mrs Foster had had an affair.

Dr Jessen had no representation in court, which was told 13 separate attempts to contact him via phone and email had gone "unanswered".

Mrs Foster told the court it the event was"an attack on me personally and my marriage, meant to destabilise me at a very critical time"when she was involved in talks to resurrect the power sharing government in the region.

The court heard that Dr Jessen responded to an email from Mrs Foster's solicitor and removed the tweet on January 7.

However, he has not responded to correspondence since.

David Ringland QC, acting for Mrs Foster, told the court: "I suspected he (Dr Jessen) had more service than anybody in the history in these courts in terms of the number and manner of service.

"In terms of the service of each of these steps, the same approach has been taken by the defendant as he has taken to every aspect of this case - in other words, head in the sand, completely ignoring, not responding."

Mr Justice McAlinden said he will produce a written judgment in the matter.

"Obviously I am going to have to reserve my decision in this case and given a written judgment," he said.

"I will try to get that dealt with as quickly as possible because I think that this has been hanging over Mrs Foster for long enough and the defendant's approach to this matter has extended the time during which it is hanging over her head, so I will attempt to deal with this matter as a matter of urgency, but it will take some time to ensure that I deal with it properly.

"I will give a written decision as soon as possible."