Arlene Foster is not the first high profile politician who has had to sit her family down and explain why everyone is suddenly talking about her private life.
On many occasions, it is a feeble attempt at damage limitation after the cat is already out of the bag.
For the former DUP leader, however, there was no cat and no bag, only a completely unsubstantiated rumour circulating on social media, and fuelled by a celebrity doctor.
But Mrs Foster still had to explain to her husband, her children and her 85-year-old mother — on Christmas Eve — that allegations she was having an affair with her police bodyguard were completely unfounded.
The Fermanagh woman may be a seasoned politician — and still technically the First Minister of Northern Ireland — but she is also a wife, mother of three, a sister and the daughter of an 87-year-old widow.
She can handle criticism from rivals — and, more recently, her own colleagues who helped oust her, rather unceremoniously, from the party leadership — but this was different.
And, with no retraction, correction or apology from Dr Christian Jessen, there was no other recourse of action but to sue for defamation.
Even though she had already secured default judgment, a ruling on the scale of damages had been put on hold after Dr Jessen mounted an 11th hour bid to enter a late defence, citing that he had not received papers relating to the case.
But on Thursday Mr Justice Gerry McAlinden awarded a record £125,000, with Dr Jessen also ordered to pay Mrs Foster's legal costs.
The scale of the payout, said Justice McAlinden, was necessary to ensure the high profile 50-year-old politician’s complete vindication over the baseless allegations.
The judge did not hold back on his condemnation of Dr Jessen.
"It was an outrageous libel concerning an individual of considerable standing, attacking her integrity at a most fundamental level and it involves the trashing in a very public fashion the relationship that Mrs Foster holds dearest in her life,” he said.
"It affected core aspects of the plaintiff's life, namely, her relationship with her husband and her deep Christian faith.”
He added: "To state that a woman, married for 25 and a half years and the mother of three children, who is a committed Christian and is publicly recognised as such, who has publicly made statements extolling the sanctity and importance of marriage as a sacred relationship between a man and a woman, who also happens to be the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, its former spokesperson on equality and human rights and a holder of the Office of First Minister of Northern Ireland, was an adulterer, a hypocrite and a homophobe, is a most serious libel and is grossly defamatory.
"It called into question the plaintiff's fitness and suitability to occupy the Office of First Minister at a time when delicate negotiations were continuing on the re-establishment of the Northern Ireland Executive.
"In short, I consider that this was an outrageously bad libel."
Mrs Foster's solicitor Paul Tweed, meanwhile, described the outcome as a complete vindication for the politician and a potential "watershed" for all women attacked on social media.
Mr Tweed looked delighted when he spoke on behalf of his client outside Belfast High Court on Thursday.
He could be forgiven for feeling rather miffed during the case, when Dr Jessen claimed he had no idea who the world-famous defamation lawyer was.
It’s fair to say that the good doctor knows now.
The court case made for compelling reading, especially when Mrs Foster herself took to the stand in early April.
She told the court that the December 23, 2019 tweet from Dr Jessen — who has over 300,000 followers on Twitter — inflicted deep hurt at a time when she was involved in talks to restore power-sharing in Northern Ireland, adding that the unfounded rumour had been “very distressing” and had “trashed” her marriage.
“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,” the MLA for Fermanagh and South Tyrone said.
The distress caused to her family — husband Brian, whom she married in 1995, two sons and a daughter — was compounded by the posting being made two days before Christmas.
“It was almost as if this cut to the very core of my life…an attack on me personally and my marriage, meant to destabilise me at a very critical time.”
The court heard that Dr Jessen responded to an email from Mrs Foster’s and removed the post, which had been retweeted over 500 times, on January 7, 2020, but did not respond to any other correspondence, leading to Mrs Foster’s QC, David Ringland, to accuse him of a “head in the sand” attitude to the case.
The court also heard that, on Christmas Day 2019, Mrs Foster’s husband got a call from the family’s minister informing him that a journalist from a local paper contacted him to ask whether the Fosters had been in church that day, and if they had appeared “stressed or distant from each other”.
In his summation Mr Justice McAlinden described this approach to the minister as “truly shocking”.
Dr Jessen, a practising medic and author, told the court he had posted the tweet based on rumours he had read on social media and wanted to highlight “possible hypocrisy behind it”, referring to the DUP's position on same-sex marriage and abortion.
The co-presenter of Channel 4 programmes Embarrassing Bodies and Supersize vs Superskinny added that he had been suffering from “quite serious mental health problems”, had not watched the news for 12 months and therefore knew nothing about the court hearing.
He said he had given up his job because of his illness, conceded that the tweet had been “very unpleasant” and added: “I would not wish to cause her [Mrs Foster] any distress.”
The court heard that after being put on notice by Mr Tweed, Dr Jessen had responded by posting "LOL".
The large payout took into account Dr Jessen’s failure to take down the tweet for two weeks and the scale of publicity it attracted, as well as the necessity to vindicate Mrs Foster, who officially relinquished her role as DUP leader on Thursday.
Having been replaced by Edwin Poots following an internal coup, she will continue as First Minister for another month before quitting frontline politics.
“I readily accept the plaintiff's evidence that this outrageously bad libel cut her to the core, causing very considerable upset, distress, humiliation, embarrassment and hurt," Mr Justice McAlinden said.
“Her marriage, her family life and her faith are the most important things in her life.
“These things provide important pillars of support for her and it was these things that were being publicly trashed."
Dr Jessen's "woefully inadequate and deliberately misleading" response to the case when one was finally made, and the failure to publish any form of apology or retraction were further aggravating features.
As Mr Tweed, referring to Dr Jessen's "LOL" (“Laugh Out Loud”) response when learning of potential legal action against him, remarked outside court: "I don't think Dr Jessen will be laughing this morning."