You've might have heard of a defamation lawsuit involving local influencer Rachel Wong.
Wong is suing one Olivia Wu for defamation, after the latter accused Wong of infidelity in a series of Instagram Stories.
However, in the case's latest development, the court has granted Wu access to Wong's correspondence (eg. text messages) and diary entries, in order to justify the Instagram stories she had posted about Wong.
If you're quite lost but still intrigued (read: kaypoh) about the whole thing, here's the lowdown of what happened.
Rachel Wong and marriage annulment
Also known as @rachelwongggg on Instagram, Wong is a host, talent, and social media influencer with about 42,000 followers.
In December 2019, Wong married Singaporean footballer Anders Aplin.
The former couple majored in Marketing at Nanyang Business School in Nanyang Technological University.
They met at a freshmen orientation camp in the first week of school, but only became more acquainted with each other when they went on a trip to Tioman with the school's scuba diving club.
However, the marriage did not last long.
In April 2020, four months after the wedding, annulment proceedings began.
The marriage was legally annulled around March 2021, according to lawnet.
Instagram Stories about alleged cheating
In December 2020, while the annulment proceedings were still in progress, Wu started posting several Instagram stories on her Instagram page.
Titled "Cheaterof2020", the stories suggested that Wong had been unfaithful to Aplin, and several of the accusations were "fleshed out in detail".
When read together with the title of “Cheaterof2020”, Wong argued that the Instagram stories meant that:
- She had committed infidelity on the day of her wedding (December 27, 2019)
- She had sexual relations with her wedding emcee, (Alan) Wan, on her wedding night
- She had no intention to marry her ex-husband, Aplin
- She had caused more than one person’s life to be ruined
- She was promiscuous
- She was mentally unwell and should seek help
- She does not have morals
- She will not pass a character check by Mediacorp
- She was shameless
Wong therefore claimed the Instagram stories were defamatory and caused her reputation to suffer damage.
It was particularly damaging to Wong, who worked as an influencer and relied on her "social media reputation, optics, and image to attract and obtain business deals on partnerships" to make a living.
Wu countered that the Instagram stories were not defamatory as they were "true in substance", and mostly disagreed with Wong's interpretations of the Stories.
According to Wu, Wong had apparently been intimate with at least two individuals, namely:
- A man, Han, who was Wong's gym trainer; and
- A man, Wan, who was the emcee at Wong and Aplin's wedding
Wong denies Wu's allegations
Wu had submitted screenshots to support her allegations that Wong and Han shared intimate and sexual conversations through text messages on Telegram.
Wong's diary entry and an "intimate photograph" of Wong and Wan were also exhibited in Wu's defence.
They were used to support Wu's claim that Wong had been intimate with, and had feelings for Wan when she was still romantically involved with Aplin.
Wong's lawyer emphasised that Wong has denied Wu's allegations.
The influencer explained that the photograph of her and Wan was taken when she had spent the night with other friends along with Wan, and she had merely fallen asleep on the sofa with him.
Furthermore, Wong's diary entry apparently only showed Wan "as a friend who was giving her support and advice during a difficult time."
Wong confirmed on affidavit that she did not have any correspondence with Han, nor had diary entries relating to Wan, except for the entry she had shown in her defence.
However, Wong's denial was considered "insufficient" to render the issue moot.
Wong also stated on affidavit that she had deleted her messages with Han, given her “habit of consistently deleting old text messages and photographs to free up memory space" — but Wu exhibited screenshots of messages exchanged between Wong and Han.
In spite of these messages, Wong asserted on affidavit that her correspondence with Han was deleted “long before [she] had even contemplated commencing an action against" Wu.
Wong also stated that she could “confirm on oath that there were no other diary entries" relating to Wan after reviewing her diary.
However, the diary entry exhibited in Wu's defence (dated Jan. 6) provided some details of Wong’s "then-fledgling feelings" for Wan.
In addition, Wong has since commenced a relationship with Wan.
Wu's Uno reverse card
Pulling an Uno reverse card move on Wong, Wu sought an order for Wong to disclose her correspondence and diary entries with Wan and Han in order to bolster her defence.
Wong resisted Wu's application to gain access to such materials, and said it was a "fishing expedition" that infringed upon her privacy and confidentiality.
Wong's lawyer also argued that Wu did not know Wong prior to posting the Instagram stories, and the documents sought could not be materials from which she could base her defence of justification, claiming it defeated the point of relevance and necessity.
However, State Courts deputy registrar Lewis Tan said that the documents sought were "plainly relevant" and would help establish whether the substance of the stories was true and adversely affect or support either Wong's or Wu's case.
The court ruled in favour of Wu's order but limited it to the following:
- All correspondence exchanged between Wong and Han from June 2016 to June 2020;
- All correspondence exchanged between Wong and Wan from June 2018 to June 2020; and
- Wong's diary entries relating to Wan from June 2018 to June 2020.
Wong told The Straits Times through her lawyer that she was disappointed with the decision but "trust[s] and respect[s]" the outcome and appeal process.
Top images by @rachelwongggg on Instagram.