TV doctor Christian Jessen faces BANKRUPTCY over £125k libel bill for tweeting false allegations that Arlene Foster was having an extra-marital affair
Celebrity doctor Christian Jessen has said he is facing bankruptcy after being ordered to pay Arlene Foster £125,000 in libel damages.
The TV host is asking his followers to help him raise money to cover his legal costs after Northern Ireland’s First Minister took him to court for tweeting false allegations that she was having an extra-marital affair.
Dr Jessen, 44, who appears on Channel 4’s Embarrassing Bodies, said he only has £20,000 to his name and cannot pay for an appeal without crowd-funding.
Depression: Celebrity doctor Christian Jessen, 44, who appears on Embarrassing Bodies has said he is facing bankruptcy after being ordered to pay £125,000 in libel damages
He said his mental health is ‘cracking’ after a judge at the High Court in Belfast ruled last week that the tweet, published in 2019, was ‘grossly defamatory’.
Mrs Foster, former leader of the DUP, said it had caused her ‘grave upset, distress, embarrassment and humiliation’.
Dr Jessen has raised more than £4,900 on a Go Fund Me page but faced a backlash on Twitter after asking for help. He is asking for £150,000 in total and has said he will donate any surplus to charity. His legal fees, should he appeal, are likely to total £300,000.
‘Obviously, I deeply regret it, and if Arlene Foster says the claim in the tweet isn’t true, then I’m sorry for causing her any hurt,’ he said. ‘But I don’t agree with the judgment. I’d been brutally honest about my mental health in court and the circumstances that led to the tweet, and for that to be dismissed is really concerning.
‘I couldn’t get together all my medical evidence of my depression. I have spent the last year living with my parents and not working due to the Covid pandemic and not having been in a fit mental state. It was just a stupid tweet.’
Humiliation: Arlene Foster took Dr Jessen to court for tweeting false allegations in 2019 that she was having an extra-marital affair and a judge ruled last week it was ‘grossly defamatory’
Dr Jessen continued: ‘I’m down to my last £20,000 and that won’t last long. I don’t have the money so if the crowd-funding doesn’t work, I may have to declare myself bankrupt. It’s obviously not helped my mental health in any way at all and while I’m keeping afloat at the moment I can feel it cracking.’
He added: ‘Being gay I’ve taken a lot of interest in the DUP stances on issues such as same-sex marriage – that is why I’ve been aware of Arlene Foster for a long time.’
In court, Judge Gerry McAlinden described the tweet as ‘an outrageous libel concerning an individual of considerable standing.’
It attacked Mrs Foster’s ‘integrity at the most fundamental level’ and involved the ‘trashing in a very public fashion of the relationship that Ms Foster holds dearest in her life’.
Despite the increasing donations, Dr Jessen’s tweet provoked a backlash on Twitter. ‘You have done the crime but want everyone else to pay for your “time” wow,’ one of his followers wrote.
Another posted: ‘No. You’ve got a nerve. Your mess, you sort it out.’