Northern Ireland’s First Minister has described the distressing impact a tweet of an unsubstantiated rumour by a celebrity doctor had on her and her family.
A libel hearing at the High Court in Belfast heard how Dr Christian Jessen tweeted on December 23 2019 that Arlene Foster had had an affair.
Mrs Foster told the court it came at a particularly stressful time when she was involved in talks to resurrect the power sharing government in the region.
“It was very humiliating to see that the relationship that’s most important to me had been trashed if you like and put out there in the public domain in that fashion,” she told the court.
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.”
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