Dr Christian Jessen says he’s facing bankruptcy after losing a libel case to politician Arlene Foster.
The Embarrassing Bodies star has been ordered to pay £125,000 in libel damages after tweeting false allegations that Northern Ireland’s First Minister was having an extra-marital affair.
Dr Jessen, 44, has said that he only has £20,000 to his name and that he can’t pay to appeal the ruling without first launching a crowd-funder.
He’s also spoken out to say his mental health is “cracking” after a High Court judge in Belfast ruled that his tweet from 2019 was “grossly defamatory”.
Former leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), Mrs Foster, said the tweet caused her “grave upset, distress, embarrassment and humiliation”.
Dr Jessen launched a Go Fund Me page in a bid to cover his legal fees, but faced backlash on social media for it.
He’s asking for £150,000, and has told his supporters that he’ll donate any surplus to charity.
If he was to appeal the decision, it’s likely his legal fees would total around £300,000.
The doctor has said he regrets his tweet.
He said: “Obviously, I deeply regret it, and if Arlene Foster says the claim in the tweet isn’t true, then I’m sorry for causing her any hurt.
“But I don’t agree with the judgment. I’d been brutally honest about my mental health in court and the circumstances that led to the tweet, and for that to be dismissed is really concerning.
“I couldn’t get together all my medical evidence of my depression. I have spent the last year living with my parents and not working due to the Covid pandemic and not having been in a fit mental state. It was just a stupid tweet.”
He went on: “I’m down to my last £20,000 and that won’t last long. I don’t have the money so if the crowd-funding doesn’t work, I may have to declare myself bankrupt.
“It’s obviously not helped my mental health in any way at all and while I’m keeping afloat at the moment I can feel it cracking.”
Dr Jessen said he had been aware of Mrs Foster for a long time because of the interest he had taken in the DUP’s stance on issues such as same-sex marriage as a gay man.
During the court hearing, Judge Gerry McAlinden said the tweet was “an outrageous libel concerning an individual of considerable standing”.
He said that it attacked Mrs Foster’s “integrity at the most fundamental level”.