Court order doesn’t cease influencers accused of infidelity over correspondence with 2 males

Dominik Nieder
The Straits Times
July 2, 2022

A social media influencer has failed in her legal bid to stop another woman from receiving correspondence between her and two men with whom she is accused of being intimate.

The influencer, Ms. Rachel Wong, had appealed a state court order against Ms. Olivia Wu, who is suing her for defamation to provide such documents.

But High Court Judge Choo Han Teck dismissed the appeal in a ruling on Tuesday (June 28), ruling that the information Ms Wu requested to bolster her defense had been shown by her to be relevant and essential to the lawsuit be.

The court’s decision is the latest development in the ongoing legal battle between the two women, which concerns multiple stories Ms. Wu posted on her Instagram account in December 2020.

The stories, titled “Cheater of 2020,” suggested Ms Wong had been unfaithful to her former husband Anders Aplin.

Court documents did not specify the relationship between Ms. Wu and Ms. Wong.

Ms. Wu, a part-time nurse who works at a pharmaceutical company, is reportedly acquainted with Mr. Aplin’s current girlfriend.

The stories were released while Ms Wong’s marriage to Mr Aplin, who is a footballer here, was annulled.

They married in December 2019 but their marriage was legally annulled in March last year. The nullity proceedings began in April 2020.

Ms Wong later sued Ms Wu, claiming that the stories caused her to damage her reputation and image on social media, on which she largely depends “to attract and maintain business deals through partnerships” for her to earn a living.

The influencer argued that the stories – when read along with their title – meant she had sex with her wedding presenter, Mr Alan Wan, on their wedding night and that she was promiscuous, among other things.

In her defense, Ms Wu claimed that the stories were true and that Ms Wong had been “more than intimate” with at least two men while she was in a romantic relationship with Mr Aplin: her fitness trainer – a Mr Han – and Mr Wan.

To support her case, she applied for a court order to obtain correspondence between Ms. Wong and the two men. She also searched for Ms. Wong’s diary entries about Mr. Wan.

State Court Assistant Registrar Lewis Tan granted the request and Ms Wong later appealed the decision to the High Court.

In his Tuesday ruling, Judge Choo noted that Gerard Quek, Ms Wu’s attorney, had presented the court with photocopies of text messages containing “lurid details” from a person named Chen Xuan Han. These messages did not reveal their recipient.

Mr Quek had also provided a copy of a diary entry allegedly by Ms Wong professing her love for Mr Wan, along with a photo of the influencer lying on a man’s chest – allegedly the host of the wedding.

“Based on the evidence presented by the defendant, there is reason to believe that similar other entries might be found,” Judge Choo said.

“And if the diaries are produced but no such entries are found, then that should certainly strengthen the plaintiff’s case in court.”

He noted an argument by Ms. Wong’s lawyer, Clarence Lun, that Ms. Wu was on a “fishing expedition” in hopes of finding useful documents to substantiate her case.

“In this case, samples of relevant material were produced, and to extend the fishing analogy a bit, it’s not a mere fishing expedition if fish were actually sighted,” he said.

Judge Choo also disagreed with Ms. Wong that Ms. Wu’s request for a court order was scandalous and annoying.

The correspondence sought could prove scandalous, but only because of the nature of the subject of the defamation, he said.

Judge Choo said the narrative in Ms Wong’s case was unclear.

“Due to a combination of Instagram language and the attorney’s utter failure to translate this into English,[Ms. Wong’s]complaint is filled with chaff,” he said.

The judge also noted Ms Wong’s description of her Instagram account as having 41,400 followers.

“That, I suppose, qualifies her to be a celebrity, in her opinion,” he said.

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