N.Irish Leader Wins Twitter Libel Case Against TV Doc

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N.Irish leader wins Twitter libel case against TV doc

Dublin, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 27th May, 2021 ) :Northern Ireland's leader won defamation damages on Thursday, in a rare court ruling for a political figure, after a celebrity doctor made unfounded claims on Twitter she was having an extra-marital affair.

The 125,000 ($177,000, 145,000 Euros) award to Arlene Foster underlined strict defamation laws and continued conversative religious attitudes in the British province.

Belfast high court judge Gerry McAlinden ruled that Christian Jessen, who fronts medical shows on British television, had been "grossly defamatory" against Foster in a tweet in 2019.

The tweet was "an outrageous libel concerning an individual of considerable standing, attacking her integrity at the most fundamental level", the judge said.

"To state that a woman married for 25-and-a-half years and a mother of three children, who is a committed Christian... was an adulterer, a hypocrite and a homophobe is a most serious libel," he added.

Awarding Foster the damages, the judge criticised Jessen for leaving the "offending tweet" active on his account -- which has more than 300,000 followers -- for two weeks.

The tweet had "cut her to the core, causing her considerable upset, distress, humiliation, embarrassment and hurt", said the judge.

Foster is currently serving her final weeks in office after being ousted as the leader of the British province's pro-UK Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) last month.

The party has its roots in fundamentalist Christianity, and has hardline views on abortion, marriage and gay rights.

A leadership struggle sparked by Foster's handling of Brexit saw Northern Ireland's regional agriculture minister Edwin Poots elected as her successor to lead the DUP.

Foster initially served as first minister from January 2016 until January 2017, when Northern Ireland's power-sharing executive collapsed in political stalemate.

McAlinden said Jessen's Twitter post had come during delicate negotiations to restore the executive which eventually succeeded in January 2020.

"I fully accept this libel took a heavy emotional toll despite her experience of dealing with the heat of robust political debate," he said.