REALITY star Ferne McCann has issued a grovelling apology to acid attack victim Sophie Hall for calling her ugly.
The ITV star, 32, confirmed she made the remarks heard in audio messages released last week — but insisted she acted out of fear.
She apologised to all the victims of Arthur Collins — her ex-boyfriend and father of her daughter — who is serving 20 years for an attack at a nightclub in London in April 2017. Sophie, one of 22 people injured, was scarred for life.
Ex-Towie star Ferne said: “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.”
The scandal erupted last week when the messages appeared on an Instagram account.
In the voice notes, a woman is heard mocking Sophie before adding: “She is one ugly f***ing c***.”
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It led to Sophie, now 27, to call for ITV to sack Ferne from her ITVBE reality show, First Time Mum.
Yesterday, the star gave her first full statement on the affair, saying she did not believe what she had said about Sophie and pinning the blame on Collins.
She 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.
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“Most importantly I want to apologise to all the victims of Arthur Collins’ 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.”
She apologised to Sophie in particular, then went on: “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.”
Ferne was first caught out in September, when audio notes were leaked on an account called Lady Whistledown — a reference to the gossip from Netflix period drama Bridgerton. In those messages, she was heard calling her friend, reality star Sam Faiers, 31, overweight.
The latest leak left Sophie in shock. She said: “Why should anyone who has been so cruel and vicious with their words be given the platform to tear down others, to make them feel worthless and like they’re not good enough?”
At the time, pals said Ferne had called in police to help find the person leaking the recordings.
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They added that she had increased security at her Essex home amid fears of a reprisal.
A source said: “Ferne is paying for a 24/7 patrol service. She is aware of how upset people are and is concerned about the welfare of her family.”Ferne laid the blame at the door of her ex-boyfriend and father of her daughter, Arthur Collins[/caption] Sophie called for ITV to sack Ferne from her popular ITVBE reality show, First Time Mum[/caption] Collins is serving 20 years at HMP Woodhill, Milton Keynes, after injuring 22 and blinding two people in the attack[/caption]