Pete Bennett and Imogen Thomas are embroiled in an online row surrounding their friend Nikki Grahame‘s death at age 38 earlier this month.
Former model Imogen, 38, took to Instagram on Wednesday to claim her ex-Big Brother co-star, 39, ‘betrayed’ their late pal and her grieving family by ‘cashing in’ to reveal her final text and sharing a ‘haunting’ photo of her ‘against everyone’s wishes’.
The musician hit back at the ‘cruel’ mother-of-two to defend his social media activity, insisting Nikki gave him permission to post the image and accused her of ‘lying about him for attention’.
Tragic: Pete Bennett and Imogen Thomas were embroiled in an online row surrounding their friend Nikki Grahame’s death aged 38 earlier this month (Imogen and Nikki pictured in 2017)
The Miss Wales 2003 winner initially wrote: ‘I can’t keep quiet any longer. I can’t stand to read another sold story by Pete Bennett.
‘You Pete have no shame with your endless stories about Nikki. You saw her once within a year, took a haunting photo of her, put it up on Instagram against everyone’s wishes claiming you helped her.
‘You were not there for her. Now this is not about you – this is about Nikki. How dare you!
‘Please allow her family and close friends grieve and stop cashing in at every opportunity selling last tests is the ultimate betrayal. I’m disgusted and feel for her family. Enough.’ (sic)
‘You have no shame’: Former model Imogen, 38, took to Instagram on Wednesday to claim her ex-Big Brother co-star (pictured in 2016), 39, ‘betrayed’ their late pal by revealing her final text
‘I won’t be shamed publicly’: The musician hit back at the ‘cruel’ mother-of-two to defend his social media activity, accusing her of ‘lying about him for attention’
In response, rock star Pete wrote: ‘In such a sad time of grief I’ve just had to witness Imogen Thomas trying to publicly shame me on her Instagram. You know, ‘Nikki’s best friend’. I’m sorry but how cruel can you get?
‘Now, About selling the final text, I didn’t sell anything, my tribute to Nikki in heat mag was from the heart and for no money and I sent love to nikkis family and friends in it too.
‘Contrary to what Imogen is saying, Nikki gave me permission to upload the final picture of us saying it was a ‘lovely picture’.
‘I put a link underneath the picture of the fundraiser to raise some funds for her care so she could get better whilst Imogen was promoting McCain oven chips and sending me daggers.’
Harsh: ‘You took a haunting photo of her, put it up on Instagram against everyone’s wishes claiming you helped her’, former beauty queen Imogen said (Nikki’s final photo above)
The actor, who briefly dated Nikki during their stint on Big Brother 7, ended his post by claiming he’s ‘had enough of fake people and bullies’.
The Mind Set star added: ‘The only person who sent me any negativity at the time was Imogen whilst I was trying to do my best for Nikki.
‘Meanwhile everybody else has been supportive to me. I may not of seen Nikki as much as I used to see her the last year but we were always in contact and when I found out she was really ill I did everything I could to b there for her.
‘I’m trying to grieve for Nikki and this crazy ownership Imogen thinks she has over (who nikkis friends are) needs to be stopped.
Throwback: The group starred on Big Brother 7 in 2006 (pictured together)
‘I never claimed to be nikkis ‘best friend’ , but actions speak louder than words. Get over it Imogen, I was nikkis friend and leave me the f**k alone to grieve. Maybe you could do a nice tribute for her instead of lying about me publicly for attention.
‘Anyway I’ve had enough of fake people and bullies. And I won’t be shamed publicly for being a good mate when Nikki needed support and will stick up for myself in any way I can, Love you Nikki ❤️.’ (sic)
MailOnline has contacted Imogen and Pete’s representatives for further comment.
WHAT IS ANOREXIA?
Anorexia is a serious mental illness where a person restricts their food intake, which often causes them to be severely underweight.
Many also exercise excessively.
Some sufferers may experience periods of bingeing, followed by purging.
Sufferers often have a distorted view of themselves and think they are larger than they really are.
Untreated, patients can suffer loss of muscle and bone strength, as well as depression, low libido and menstruation ceasing in women.
In severe cases, patients can experience heart problems and organ damage.
Behavioural signs of anorexia include people saying they have already eaten or will do later, as well as counting calories, missing meals, hiding food and eating slowly.
As well as weight loss, sufferers may experience insomnia, constipation, bloating, feeling cold, hair loss, and swelling of the hands, face and feet.
Treatment focuses on therapy and self-help groups to encourage healthy eating and coping mechanisms.
Source: Beat Eating Disorders
Northwood native Nikki was found dead on April 10 in her London home, a day after she was discharged from Dorset County Hospital in Dorchester after a three week stay to treat her anorexia.
Pete revealed they had danced to Kate Bush’s song Babooshka not long before she tragically died.
In an interview with Heat Magazine, the TV star said his final text from Nikki read: ‘Hey Petie, all good my end. Starting a clinic on Monday, which is good. And the sun is shining today!’
The reality icon also said he was hoping to organise a special message from singer Kate to boost Nikki’s spirits during her time in hospital.
He explained: ‘I was looking to contact Kate Bush to see if she could send Nikki a message as I honestly thought that giving her a boost from her hero would help her start to feel more positive and recover.
‘But then we got the news that she was gone. And it was too late.’
Imogen previously said Nikki was ‘never alone’ because her friends took turns to stay with her, after Pete claimed she was ‘stuck in London by herself’ before she died.
Alongside a throwback image of the pair, the former beauty queen said: I’ve had to come on here to clarify something. After seeing numerous interviews, I want to stress that our beloved Nik was never alone.
‘Myself, Leon [Dee] and Carly [Cunningham] alternated days to make sure of this. I also want to stress that Nikki’s lovely mum Sue was by Nikki’s side continuously. It pains me to read these stories. It’s utterly heartwrenching.’ (sic)
Just a few days earlier, Pete had said on Good Morning Britain: ‘She was reminiscing about Big Brother, she wasn’t well obviously but she was still there. It was one of the most special nights I ever had with Nikki.
‘A lovely bond and experience to see each other again, the fondest memory I’ve got of her now.
‘She was lonely, she was stuck in north London, all by herself, I’m lucky enough to be in Brighton where there’s lots of people around, but she was stuck there all by herself.
‘I’m lost for words still, I really am, just yeah it’s been a mad wave of emotions and I can’t really, I’m still speechless trying to put it together what happened.’
‘It’s heartwrenching’: The Miss Wales 2003 winner previously said Nikki was ‘never alone’ because her friends took turns to stay with her
Emotional: A few days earlier, the TV legend’s ex insisted she was ‘so lonely and stuck in London by herself’
Nikki had previously admitted she was struggling to ‘deal’ with another coronavirus lockdown in what was to be her final social media post.
Alongside a video montage of some of her infamous tantrums in the Big Brother house, she wrote: ‘My reaction to the second national lockdown announcement.’
In her caption, she added: ‘Not this again….seriously can’t deal #lockdown #f**kcovid19 #fml.’
It is believed that the star was released from hospital in Devon a day before her tragic death.
Final post: Nikki admitted months previously she was struggling to ‘deal’ with another coronavirus lockdown in what was to be her final social media post
Just last month Nikki’s pals had launched a fundraiser to try and gather funds for her to receive specialist treatment, managing to reach a total of £65,539.
The original page read: ‘She has been battling for most of her life and as you can see, Nikki is now in a very bad way so we need to do something quickly.
‘Over the past years Nikkis family and friends have tried so desperately to get Nikki all the help possible through the NHS but unfortunately the treatments have failed and we have exhausted every avenue possible, and now Nik is unfortunately in a very bad way, this is now our last hope.
‘This is why we feel that getting her treatment in a specialist clinic is the only option left for her.’
‘Not a day will go by without missing your smile’: Her friend Leon Dee paid tribute to his late friend and revealed money raised on GoFundMe will be given to charity (pictured in 2017)