High Court orders influencer Rachel Wong to turn over correspondence with 2 men to woman who accused her of infidelity
- Ms Rachel Wong, 27, is suing Ms Olivia Wu for defamation over the latter's Instagram Stories
- Ms Wu alleged that the influencer was unfaithful to her ex-husband, national footballer Anders Aplin
- The trial has not started yet as Ms Wong had appealed a district judge's order for her to turn over correspondence with two men
- A High Court judge dismissed the appeal on Tuesday
SINGAPORE — A High Court judge on Tuesday (June 28) upheld a lower court’s decision permitting a woman who accused social media influencer Rachel Wong of infidelity to obtain correspondence between Ms Wong and two men.
Ms Olivia Wu had branded Ms Wong the “Cheater of 2020” on Instagram, alleging that Ms Wong cheated on her ex-husband — national footballer Anders Aplin — with her gym trainer and their wedding emcee.
Ms Wong then sued the other woman for defamation. She and Mr Aplin annulled their marriage four months after tying the knot.
She is seeking damages of S$150,000 including aggravated damages.
Earlier this year, a district court judge ordered the 27-year-old influencer to turn over her diary entries and correspondence with the two other men.
Ms Wong appealed this ruling for specific discovery to the High Court. Discovery is the formal process where parties exchange relevant documents in preparation for trial.
In a five-page written judgement on Tuesday, High Court judge Choo Han Teck dismissed the appeal, agreeing with the lower court that Ms Wu had sufficiently shown that the documents she sought were relevant and material for the trial.
Ms Wong’s defamation lawsuit was sparked by six Instagram stories titled “Cheater of 2020" that Ms Wu — a part-time nurse who works for a pharmaceutical company — had posted on her account in December 2020.
In her Instagram Stories, Ms Wu, who is acquainted with Mr Aplin’s current girlfriend, accused Ms Wong of being intimate with her gym trainer and the wedding emcee, Mr Alan Wan.
Ms Wu further asserted that Ms Wong had sex with Mr Wan on her wedding night.
As for the gym trainer, Ms Wu alleged that he engaged in “intimate and sexual conversations” with Ms Wong through text messages on Telegram when she was dating Mr Aplin.
Ms Wong then sued Ms Wu, claiming that the posts caused her to suffer damage to her reputation as a full-time social media influencer who depends on her image to secure business deals on partnerships.
Justice Choo noted that she has about 41,400 followers on her Instagram account.
“That, I suppose, entitles her, in her estimation, to be a celebrity,” the judge added.
In her statement of claim, Ms Wong said that if she had not truly intended to marry Mr Aplin, she would not have had a highly publicised pre-wedding photoshoot. She said that she had “fully intended” to marry him leading up to the wedding.
She also claimed that on the night of their wedding, she, Mr Wan and another friend helped Mr Aplin to their hotel room when he passed out from alcohol intoxication. She added that she was never alone with Mr Wan in the hotel room then.
She argued that through the Instagram Stories, Ms Wu imputed that she had ruined “more than one person’s life”, that she was promiscuous, mentally unwell, has no morals, and “would not pass a character check by MediaCorp”.
Ms Wu countered that the posts were not defamatory because they were "true in substance". She has invoked the defence of fair comment.
PURPORTED 'LURID DETAILS'
In his judgement, Justice Choo said it was essential to understand the narrative even though he was only ruling on the order for specific discovery.
The judge wrote: “That, is the first challenge — the narrative is not clear. By a combination of Instagram-speak and the utter failure of counsel to translate that into English, (Ms Wong’s) statement of claim is filled with chaff.”
He then noted the details of Ms Wong’s claims and that she had left for India for a solo trip a few days after the wedding. She applied to annul the wedding upon returning to Singapore.
In support of his application for discovery, Ms Wu’s lawyer Gerard Quek had submitted photocopies of text messages “depicting lurid details” from a man who was ostensibly named Chen Xuan Han, the judge further noted.
The messages did not show who received these messages.
Mr Quek had also appended a copy of what appeared to be an entry from Ms Wong’s diary professing her love for Mr Wan, along with a photograph purportedly of Ms Wong lying on his chest.
A district court registrar and judge then allowed Ms Wu to obtain correspondence from 2016 to 2020 between Ms Wong and the two men, as well as her diary entries from 2018 to 2020 about Mr Wan.
Justice Choo said that Ms Wu had “adequately shown” these documents are relevant and material for the defamation trial.
"From the exhibits that the defendant has produced, there is reason to believe that similar other entries may be found, and if the diaries are produced but no such entries are found, then surely that should strengthen the plaintiff’s case at trial,” he added.
The judge referred to Ms Wong’s lawyer Clarence Lun’s argument that the other woman was on a “fishing expedition”.
“In this case, samples of relevant material had been produced, and, to extend the fishing analogy just a bit more, it is not a mere fishing expedition if fish has in fact been spotted,” Justice Choo added.
The judge then said he will consider the issue of costs if both parties cannot settle it between themselves.
Trial dates for the case have not been set yet.
Ms Wong in a statement released through her lawyer said that while she was "disappointed with the outcome", she planned to continue with the lawsuit as a way to "stand up for people who have been the subject of online abuse, harassment and defamation".