DUP leader Arlene Foster sues TV doctor for defamation
Who had Arlene Foster suing the Embarrassing Bodies guy on their 2021 bingo card?
Leader of the DUP and Northern Ireland's first minister Arlene Foster is suing TV presenter Dr Christian Jessen for defamation. Foster claims that Jessen, best known for presenting Channel 4 programme Embarrassing Bodies, made an "attack" on her marriage after tweeting an allegation that she was having an affair.
The DUP leader told the High Court in Belfast that it had been a "very humiliating" time for her, describing the tweet as "an attack on me personally and my marriage, meant to destabilise me at a very critical time."
There was no representation from Jessen or anyone on his behalf in the court, which heard that 13 separate approaches by letter and email had been made to the TV personality with no answer.
Jessen's tweet was published on 23 December 2019, at a time when Foster was involved in important power-sharing talks in Northern Ireland. The court heard that at the time several anonymous users were also tweeting similar claims involving Foster and an extra-marital affair.
This would seem to be in relation to the DUP's opposition to same-sex marriage.
Foster told the court that whilst she believed in the sanctity of marriage, she was not homophobic.
She said: "I do get distressed when people call me a homophobe because that's something I am not.
"I have many friends who are homosexual, they know my views and in any event same-sex marriage is now the law in Northern Ireland and has to be upheld.
"I have never in my own utterances said anything in relation with people who are homosexual and that's why I do get upset when people call me a homophobe."
Mr Ringland went on to say that there had been "no correction, retraction or apology" and that Dr Jessen adopted a "head-in-the-sand approach."
The doctor had more than 300,000 followers when he made the tweet, which was retweeted more than 500 times. It was not until 7 January 2020 that Jessen deleted the tweet, despite Foster's barrister David Ringland QC saying that a solicitor for the DUP leader had instructed Jessen to take the tweet down the following day (24 December).
A final judgement on the case has been delayed, however the judge said that he would look to deal with the case as a "matter of urgency."