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Christian Jessen in 'last chance saloon' to defend actions over untrue Arlene Foster affair tweet, says judge


Arlene Foster has launched legal proceedings against Christian Jessen.

Arlene Foster has launched legal proceedings against Christian Jessen.

Arlene Foster has launched legal proceedings against Christian Jessen.

A judge in the Arlene Foster libel case has allowed defendant Christian Jessen to make further submissions.

Justice Gerry McAlinden, however, told the court that it was “the last chance saloon” for the celebrity medic.

Northern Ireland’s First Minister is suing the ‘Embarrassing Bodies’ presenter for tweeting the untrue claim that she had been having an extra-martial affair with a close protection police officer.

In a review hearing on Tuesday, Mr McAlinden confirmed David Ringland QC, acting for Mrs Foster, that he would make a preliminary ruling on whether Dr Jensen is being truthful about the service of documents.

He said he was facilitating this because it is “an important aspect of the case” adding: “This is the last chance saloon for Dr Jessen, a Harley Street doctor.

“And, if it’s a case where he loses his opportunity to belatedly defend this action on a credibility point then it’s important that all opportunities are given to him and his representatives to make points in his favour so that’s why I’m adopting this particular approach,” the judge said.

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Gavin Millar QC told the judge he could have Dr Jessen’s written submissions by May 4.

Mr Ringland QC agreed to submit Mrs’s Foster’s response by May 10.

The hearing for final oral submissions in relation to the issue of credibility will take place on May 14.

It was on December 23, 2019, that Dr Jessen tweeted the allegation which prompted legal action from Mrs Foster.

The post remained online until Dr Jessen deleted it on January 7, 2020.

Even though the DUP leader has already secured judgment in her favour, Dr Jessen claimed that he had not received legal documents or trial dates for the libel action and was subsequently ordered to Belfast to testify and face cross examination by Mrs Foster’s counsel.

In the High Court last week he said he did not intend to cause “any distress” by posting the unsubstantiated rumour, while admitting that the allegation would have been “unpleasant” for Northern Ireland’s most senior politician.

By the time the post was removed, it had been liked 3,500 times and retweeted over 500 times.

Jessen told the court he had posted the tweet based on rumours he had read on social media and wanted to highlight “possible hypocrisy behind in” referring to the DUP’s position on same-sex marriage and abortion.

The previous week, Mrs Foster had told the court that she believed Dr Jessen’s tweet had been designed to destabilise her when she was involved in talks to resurrect Stormont’s power-sharing government.

She added that she had to sit down with her two children and her elderly mother to assure them the rumour was not true.

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