Celebrity doctor Christian Jessen, known for hosting Channel 4's programme "Embarrassing Bodies," has admitted that he is facing bankruptcy due to a "stupid tweet" he posted about Northern Ireland's former First Minister Arlene Foster in December 2019.

In a hearing at Belfast High Court last week, a judge ordered the TV doctor to pay Foster £125,000 (€175k) in libel damages for tweeting an unfounded accusation that she was having an affair with a close protection officer behind the back of her cop husband Brian. Foster said the tweet, which the court judges as "grossly defamatory," caused her "grave upset, distress, embarrassment, and humiliation" and "trashed" her 25-year-marriage.

Jessen has now apologised for his tweet, a mistake he blames on his mental health at the time. However, the 44-year-old argues that he doesn't agree with the court's judgement which according to him ignores his mental issues.

"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," he said.

The doctor further said in his defence: "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."

Jessen has now created a Go Fund Me page "Support Dr Christian" requesting fans to help him cover his legal fees to save him from bankruptcy. He is asking for £150,000 in total and had raised £6,535 by the time this report was published.

Dear all. I’m very grateful for your messages of support and encouragement following the recent news. Would you please retweet and support me via my GoFundMe page? I have put more details there and I’ll keep you updated. Big hugs C x https://t.co/QqLsUNXlDu #GoFundMe

— Dr Christian Jessen (@DoctorChristian) May 28, 2021

"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," he said while urging for help.

To encourage people to donate to his fund, Jessen pointed out Foster's and her party DUP's anti-gay stance. The Democratic Unionist Party has always been seen as the most powerful, most vehemently anti-gay political party in Northern Ireland.

"Being gay I've taken a lot of interest in the DUP stances on issues such as same-sex marriage – that is why I've been aware of Arlene Foster for a long time," Jessen said.

While a number of people are donating to Jessen's cause, his request has provoked a backlash on Twitter. "You have done the crime but want everyone else to pay for your 'time' wow," a Twitter user wrote, while another commented: "No. You've got a nerve. Your mess, you sort it out."

Dr Christian Jessen
Dr Christian Jessen, the presenter of Channel 4's medical reality show "Embarrassing Bodies."