Dr Christian Jessen seeks public help to fight Arlene Foster libel damages

Celebrity TV doctor Christian Jessen is urging the public to help him challenge the six-figure libel damages awarded to Arlene Foster.

Friday, 28th May 2021, 3:35 pm
Updated Friday, 28th May 2021, 6:48 pm
Dr Christian Jessen appearing at Belfast High Court. Photo: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

He described his current predicament as a “most unfair situation”.

On Thursday, a judge in Belfast ordered TV presenter Dr Jessen to pay the outgoing first minister and DUP leader £125,000 in damages over an “outrageous” defamatory tweet.

In December 2019 the presenter, who is best known for appearing on the Channel 4 show ‘Embarrassing Bodies’, posted a Twitter message making the false allegation that Mrs Foster was having an extramarital affair.

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Mr Justice McAlinden said: “It is an outrageous libel concerning an individual of considerable standing, attacking her integrity at the most fundamental level, and it involves the trashing in a very public fashion of the relationship that Mrs Foster holds dearest in her life.”

On Friday afternoon, Dr Jessen used Twitter to post an appeal for public support.

He said: “Dear all. I’m very grateful for your messages of support and encouragement following the recent news. Would you please retweet and support me via my GoFundMe page?

“I have put more details there and I’ll keep you updated. Big hugs C x.”

Outgoing NI First Minister and DUP leader Arlene Foster. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

The message on the appeal website states:

“Hello, my name is Christian Jessen.

“On 28 January 2020 the First Minister of Northern Ireland Arlene Foster issued libel proceedings against me over a tweet I published in December 2019 which the High Court has held as defamatory.

“I was ordered to pay libel damages and full indemnity legal costs incurred by her which shall be substantial.

“I gave evidence to the court about my mental health and personal circumstances over the last year.

“I am also considering an appeal and I am seeking to raise funds to help me fight what is a most unfair situation.

“As a practising doctor and humanist with a public profile, I have fought hard to ensure LGBTQ+ rights are recognised and upheld around the world and I am proud to have been involved in many prominent campaigns bringing positive change to marriage equality, blood donation rules, women’s abortion rights, and recognising and reducing HIV stigma.

“I am an advocate for HIV education and testing and am proud to be a National HIV Testing Week Ambassador.

“I am, perhaps, better known for my television work offering medical help and guidance to your front rooms.

“As these legal proceedings have involved some very personal issues and revelations, any monies raised surplus to the costs will be donated to relevant charities.

“The last year or so has been very difficult for me as I have struggled with some serious mental health problems and knowing I have your support is hugely encouraging and affirming. I’m very grateful. C x.”

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