Christian Jessen claims he did not receive legal documents in case by Arlene Foster

Defamation case brought by First Minister against doctor over tweet alleging affair

 Defamation proceedings were brought against Dr Jessen following categorically untrue social media allegations Mrs Foster had an affair with a close protection police office . File photograph: Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye/PA Wire

Defamation proceedings were brought against Dr Jessen following categorically untrue social media allegations Mrs Foster had an affair with a close protection police office . File photograph: Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye/PA Wire

 

A celebrity doctor sued by First Minister Arlene Foster over a false tweet about an extra-marital affair was unaware the case had reached hearing, the High Court was told today.

Television presenter Christian Jessen claims he never received legal documents or trial dates for the libel action.

He was ordered to travel to Belfast later this week to testify and face cross-examination by counsel by Mrs Foster, who described his assertions as “beyond parody”.

The last-minute development is set to delay judgment on the level of payout to award the Democratic Unionist Party leader.

Mr Justice McAlinden told Dr Jessen’s barrister: “If he’s saying that he didn’t get any of that material and was only aware of the assessment of damages hearing in this case when friends contacted him to ascertain how he was, having regard to press coverage, if all that is being asserted as being true by your client then I’m afraid it is the case his credibility will be significantly under scrutiny.”

Defamation proceedings were brought against Dr Jessen following categorically untrue social media allegations Mrs Foster had an affair with a close protection police officer.

The Harley Street medic, best known for presenting Channel 4 shows Embarrassing Bodies and Supersize v Superskinny, posted a tweet on December 23rd, 2019, the court heard last week.

The online comment was only removed two weeks after, having received 3,500 likes and was retweeted more than 500 times.

In her evidence Mrs Foster said she was left humiliated by the unfounded rumour which “trashed” her 25-year marriage.

With no defence entered in the lawsuit, Mrs Foster has already secured judgment in default.

Mr Justice McAlinden was due to rule on Wednesday on the amount of damages after hearing the First Minister’s testimony.

But newly instructed lawyers for Dr Jessen lodged an urgent application for permission to make the case that he never received documents or dates for earlier stages in the proceedings.

Putting his judgment on hold, Mr Justice McAlinden adjourned until Friday when the defendant will attend court to give evidence in person.