The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) draws much of its support from very conservative Protestants in Northern Ireland. Extra-marital affairs and homosexuality are deeply frowned upon among DUP supporters.
The leader of the DUP, Arlene Foster, will have to wait to find out whether she has been successful in suing a celebrity doctor for defamation.
A libel hearing at the High Court in Belfast on Wednesday, 14 April, heard Dr Christian Jessen, who is openly gay, tweeted on 23 December 2019 that Arlene Foster had been having an affair.
Mrs Foster said the tweet was completely untrue and she said it was “very humiliating” and the remark represented an “attack” on her marriage.
The court heard the tweet remained on Dr Jessen’s profile until it was deleted on 7 January 2020.
The court heard Dr Jessen had not responded to any legal correspondence and was not present in court.
BREAK: NI First Minister Arlene Foster has told the High Court in Belfast that unfounded allegations of an extra-marital affair with a close protection officer, tweeted by celebrity doctor Christian Jessen, were “very distressing” and “humiliating” for her and her family. pic.twitter.com/vgEfkt9Il2
— David Blevins (@skydavidblevins) April 14, 2021
Mrs Foster’s barrister, David Ringland QC, said: “In terms of the service of each of these steps, the same approach has been taken by the defendant as he has taken to every aspect of this case – in other words, head in the sand, completely ignoring, not responding.”
Dr Jessen is the presenter of Channel Four programme Embarrassing Bodies but also once introduced a documentary about US conversion treatments, called “Cure Me I’m Gay.”
The DUP has consistently opposed equal rights for homosexuals and transgender people and is also opposed to abortion.
I can’t believe I dared to tweet this… 🤣 https://t.co/pN2s7DoWgP
— Dr Christian Jessen (@DoctorChristian) February 17, 2021
The judge, Mr Justice McAlinden, said he would produce a written judgment in a few weeks’ time.
Mrs Foster’s predecessor as leader of the DUP was Peter Robinson and his wife Iris had a highly-publicised affair with 19-year-old Kris McCambley.
Mrs Robinson, herself a DUP MP, was expelled from the party after it emerged she had taken out a bank loan to help her young lover start a restaurant.