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Arlene Foster wins £125,000 in damages for 'outrageous' tweet falsely saying she had an affair, judge says it was worse as she is 'committed Christian'

by Cara Bentley

Arlene Foster, the former leader of the DUP has been awarded £125,000 in damages for a defamatory tweet, with the judge citing that it was even more harmful because she is a "committed Christian" and "has publicly made statements extolling the importance and sanctity of marriage".

Ms Foster sued the TV presenter of 'Embarrassing Bodies' Dr Christian Jessen for making an unfounded claim on Twitter that she was having an extra-marital affair.

Delivering his judgment at the High Court in Belfast, Mr Justice McAlinden said: “To state that a woman married for 25-and-a-half years and a mother of three children, who is a committed Christian and who is recognised as such, and who has publicly made statements extolling the importance and sanctity of marriage, who also happens to be the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party 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 is an outrageous libel concerning an individual of considerable standing, attacking her integrity at the most fundamental level, and it involves the trashing in a very public fashion of the relationship that Mrs Foster holds dearest in her life.

“It affected core aspects of her life, namely her relationship with her husband, her deep Christian faith, it called into question her 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 it was an outrageously bad libel.”

The tweet was liked approximately 3,500 times and it was retweeted 517 times and remained on the presenter's Twitter account for two weeks, with him having 311,000 followers.

The judge added: “Her marriage, her family life and her faith are the most important things in her life. These things provide important pillars of support and it was these things that were publicly trashed.”

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