Rebekah Vardy tells court she did not leak stories about Coleen Rooney
Rebekah Vardy has lost her libel case against Coleen Rooney, bringing the Wagatha Christie scandal to an end.
For context, in a viral social media post in October 2019, Coleen Rooney, 36, said she had carried out a “sting operation” and accused Rebekah Vardy, 40, of leaking “false stories” about her private life to the press.
On Friday (29 July), the High Court judge found it was “substantially true”.
Rooney publicly claimed an account behind three fake stories shared with The Sun newspaper was Vardy.
In a much-anticipated ruling, the judge said it was “likely” that Vardy’s agent at the time, Caroline Watt, “undertook the direct act” of passing the information to The Sun.
She added: “Nonetheless, the evidence … clearly shows, in my view, that Mrs Vardy knew of and condoned this behaviour, actively engaging in it by directing Ms Watt to the private Instagram account, sending her screenshots of Mrs Rooney’s posts, drawing attention to items of potential interest to the press, and answering additional queries raised by the press via Ms Watt.”
Vardy, who is married to Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy, repeatedly denied leaking information to newspapers, telling the court: “I have been called a leaker and it’s not nice.”
Vardy was suing her fellow footballer’s wife for libel, while Rooney was defending the claim on the basis her post was “substantially true”.
Both women attended a week-long trial at the High Court in London in May, which attracted a huge amount of press attention.
Ros Atkins summed up the scandal perfectly in just six minutes:
You can watch it here:
If you\u2019re seeing \u2018Wagatha Christie\u2019 in the news this morning and aren\u2019t sure on every detail, here\u2019s the story from the start all the way to this week\u2019s libel trial between Rebekah Vardy and Colleen Rooney.pic.twitter.com/1iJZGROAqn
At the end of Rooney's evidence, she was asked about the aftermath of her “reveal” post and Vardy’s response.
Vardy's barrister Hugh Tomlinson said: “She makes it clear to you that it wasn’t her, doesn’t she?”
“She says she has zero interest in what’s going on in my life, which I believe is totally untrue,” Rooney replied. “She talks about me a lot… so that was a lie,” she added.
Tomlinson QC said Vardy had to bring the libel claim to “vindicate her reputation”.
The written submissions read: “The allegation in the post was and remains false: Mrs Vardy had not leaked information about Mrs Rooney or her friends and family to The Sun newspaper from her private Instagram account.
“Mrs Rooney did not have the ‘irrefutable’ evidence that she claimed to have had: her so-called ‘careful investigation’ was nothing of the sort.
“If anyone had been leaking information from Mrs Rooney’s private Instagram this was not done with Mrs Vardy’s knowledge or approval.”
Summing up Rooney’s case in May, her barrister David Sherborne said it was “a detective story”.
“Like any good detective story, you never find a person standing over the body with a smoking gun,” he said, arguing there was “inference”.
He told Justice Steyn: “You do not have to be convinced beyond reasonable doubt, you just have to conclude that it is more likely than not that Mrs Vardy was responsible, either directly or through Ms (Caroline – Mrs Vardy’s friend and agent) Watt.”
Sherborne described what he called a series of “most improbable events” that had affected the disclosure of evidence in the case from Vardy and those around her.
This included Watt’s “poor unfortunate phone” falling into the North Sea “within days” of the court ordering that, even though she was not a party to proceedings, it should be searched for disclosure.
However, Tomlinson said the suggestion that Vardy and Watt were involved in a “conspiracy” and “campaign of deletion” in relation to evidence in the case is “completely baseless”.
He also told the court that it had not been suggested “that Mrs Vardy was anywhere near the North Sea at the time” Watt’s phone fell into the water, nor that she “knew anything about it”.
Rooney was defending the claim on the basis of truth and public interest.
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