THE stars of the bitching and back-stabbing reality series The Only Way Is Essex are no strangers to drama.
The upsetting messages, published on an anonymous Instagram account, feature Ferne apparently telling a friend: “Sam Fairs is a fat c***. Her thighs are so big and I looked really skinny today.”
The audio message was said to have been sent just days after Sam, 31, had given birth to her second child in May.
In another voice note, a woman who appears to be 32-year-old Ferne is heard saying: “She is just a narcissistic bitch.
“It’s just so s**t on people that have worked hard, because she’s got a big following. It’s just ridiculous — it’s out of order.”
The Instagram account, named lucymay195, has racked up more than 15,000 followers since it appeared on Saturday.
Ferne was once close with Sam and is best pals with her Towie sister Billie.
The pair were friends before Towie started in 2010 with Sam in the original line up and Ferne joining three years later.
Sam’s mum Suzie Wells and others close to the reality TV star have firmly laid the blame at Ferne’s door and insisted she is the one who made the cruel comments.
Yesterday Ferne cancelled interviews to plug her collaboration with a children’s brand in an apparent bid to avoid questions about the saga.
And those close to Ferne say she is in panic mode.
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A pal said: “She is in a living nightmare and wants this to stop. People don’t know all the facts.
“All eyes are on what could come out next on this Instagram account.
“If those voice notes were made by Ferne then it is incredibly damaging.
“She is being seen as a bit toxic at the moment. No one can believe she would say such things.”
Pals say Sam, who gave birth to her third child in June, is devastated over the voice notes attacking her.
She unfollowed and blocked Ferne on Instagram in the days after the first leak — believing the voice notes were made by Ferne.
Those close to the pair are now taking sides, with many rallying around Sam to support her.
A source said: “Sam is being inundated with support from her famous pals and Towie stars.
“She feels like she is the victim here and is having a terrible time. The troops have been rallied and the battle lines are drawn. There is no going back from this.
“But the thought that there are more nasty voice notes coming about her is horrible for Sam.
“She is a young mum and a businesswoman just trying to get on with her life.
“To hear disgusting things being said about her, apparently from a woman who has been in her life for 20 years, is unthinkable.
“Sam and Ferne had grown apart over the years but in Sam’s eyes they were still good friends.
Sam and her sister Billie have kept silent since the leaked messages.
But Sam’s mum Suzie, who appeared on Towie as well as Sam and Billie’s documentary series The Mummy Diaries, launched a blistering attack on Ferne.
In a statement posted on Instagram on Tuesday after one of the voice notes had been made public, Suzie wrote: “This has come as a complete shock to myself and my family. Ferne has always been a very close family friend to all of us for over the past 20 years.”
“It appears this voice note was sent just weeks after Samantha gave birth back in May. Since this voice note has surfaced, more has been sent — very upsetting nasty things.
“We are as shocked as you are. Nobody should ever speak about their friends like this ever!
“My girls are my absolute everything and I’ll do anything to protect them.”
Since the second voice note leaked, Ferne has been forced to turn off the comments on her Instagram account after people started to write hurtful comments beneath her photographs.
On Tuesday she was photographed leaving a gym in Brentwood with her fiancé, businessman Lorri Haines, but has since avoided the public gaze.
Pals say Sam is at home in Surrey focussing on life with her husband, builder Paul Knightley, and their three kids.
After leaving Towie in 2014, Sam appeared in ITVBe spin-off series The Mummy Diaries which followed her life as mum to Paul, six, Rosie, four, and now three-month-old baby Edward.
She has built an estimated wealth of £9million thanks to her hugely successful kids’ business and her beauty firm.
Ferne joined the show a year before Sam left and came third on I’m A Celebrity . . . Get Me Out Of Here!.
‘Shocked and saddened’
She later starred in Ferne McCann: First Time Mum, which followed her life with her four-year-old daughter Sunday.
The pair fell out in 2017 after a row over their solo television shows.
A year later they made up and both supported Sam’s sister Billie at her hen party and wedding.
Just last week, Ferne sent a supportive message to Sam on Instagram after she shared work being done on her house.
Friends close to both women said they were “shocked and saddened” by the recent developments.
They added: “The Towie lot are known for a bit of drama but this takes the biscuit.
“This row has shocked everyone — especially those who know Ferne and never expected her to be linked to anything like this.
“Sam and Ferne are all anyone is talking about and people can’t get their heads around why someone would post it all over the internet.
“Both of them are trying to drum up support from their friends and both of them have people rallying around them.
“It really is one big, nasty mess.”
HOW THEY MEASURE UP
Worth: Est. £5.5million
TV career: After leaving Towie in 2015 Ferne went onto I’m A Celebrity and finished third. In 2017 she got her own ITVBE spin off show called First Time Mum.
Most controversial TV moment: Having a vajazzle on screen
Instagram followers: 2.9million
Worth: Est. £9m
TV career: After leaving Towie in 2014 Sam joined Celebrity Big Brother but was forced out after struggling with her Crohn’s Disease. Two years later she landed her own ITVBE spin off The Baby Diaries which was later rebranded to The Mummy Diaries to include her sister Billie.
Most controversial TV moment: Eating a live huntsman spider on IAC
Instagram followers: 2.5million