Gay Embarrassing Bodies doctor Christian Jessen must pay £125,000 to former DUP leader Arlene Foster, after he claimed she was having an extra-marital affair.
In December 2019, Jessen slammed Foster’s anti-LGBT+ beliefs in a tweet, while also claiming she was cheating on her husband with her protection officer.
Referring to rumours that Foster was having an affair spread by anonymous Twitter accounts, Jessen described Foster as the “the sanctity of marriage preaching woman” and wrote: “It always comes back to bite them on the arse in the end.”
Jessen deleted the tweet in January 2020, but it was revealed last month that Foster, who has relentlessly tried to block same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland, was suing Jessen for defamation, and now a judge has ruled in her favour.
On Thursday (27 May), the judge at the High Court in Belfast said that Jessen’s tweet was “grossly defamatory” and an “outrageous libel”, according to the BBC.
He ruled that Jessen’s comments, tweeted to his hundreds of thousands of followers, had affected many aspects of Foster’s life and undermined her role at the time of first minister of Northern Ireland.
The tweet attacked Foster’s “integrity at a most fundamental level”, he added, and “trashed” her marriage “in a very public fashion”.
Jessen has been ordered to pay Foster £125,000 in damages.
Arlene Foster insisted in court that she is not ‘a homophobe’
At a previous hearing for the defamation case, Arlene Foster was asked in court about her views on the LGBT+ community.
She admitted that she takes “the traditional view, the church-based view” of marriage, but 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.”