Ferne McCann apologises over 'disgusting' comments about acid attack victim
Ferne McCann has spoken directly for the first time since being accused of sending a "disgusting" voice note about her ex-boyfriend Arthur Collins' acid attack victim, Sophie Hall.
The reality star, 32, admitted to saying "things that are untrue" - but only did so out of fear - in a grovelling apology after an anonymous Instagram account accused her of behind the voice behind a "vile" recording about Sophie.
Ferne released a statement to followers on Tuesday night, after she was claimed to have called Ms Hall, who was scarred for life during the acid attack by Collins at a London nightclub in 2017, a "silly b***h" and "ugly" for wearing a papier mache dress made of newspaper cuttings for a beauty pageant.
The former TOWIE star said she does not believe Ms Hall to be "ugly or stupid" and says the voice notes have been heavily edited in an attempt to sabotage her reputation.
In a statement shared with her 2.9 million Instagram followers, Ferne said: "I am aware that people will have a number of questions about the voice messages being put into the public domain and purportedly sent by me.
"I feel I have no choice but to address these (to the extent that I can as there are restrictions on me which I explain below).
"Most importantly I want to apologise to all the victims of Arthur Collins's abhorrent actions in 2017 that they have to relive that night and the pain that followed because this matter is again in the public domain.
"In particular, I want to apologise to Sophie Hall. I do not believe her to be ugly or stupid. She has been brave beyond belief."
Ferne continued: "Arthur Collins' crimes created genuine victims so I am not trying to portray myself as one.
"I am unable to say much because there are important and significant legal proceedings that prevent me from setting the record straight at this stage.
"What I can say is that the voice messages that are being released are manipulated; edited and taken entirely out of context.
"Even so, I will have said things that are untrue and I did not believe – but I did so to protect my family and myself from serious harm and in the face of significant threats."
In recent weeks, an Instagram account has been leaking voice notes who they claim are of Ferne, with the most recent about Sophie Hall.
Sophie was one of 14 people who were injured by Ferne's ex Collins in the acid attack. He is currently serving 20 years in prison.
The user alleged Ferne was the voice behind the voice note which said: "She'll probably win it I'm not gonna lie. Only because the event and the award she's entered or beauty competition, whatever it is, they're probably loving all this free press for their event.
"So they'll probably fix it, she'll win it. She is one ugly f***ing c***."
Although, there is no suggestion that the competition was fixed, or that the organisers had interfered. Ms Hall didn't win.
Sophie said the words left her feeling sick to her stomach.
Speaking to The Sun, Sophie said: "Why should anyone who has been so cruel be given the platform to tear others down?"
Essex Police confirmed last month that they had been in contact with Ferne after she made a complaint regarding the Instagram account.