A long-running saga involving the partners of two former England international forwards has been brought to a close
Rebekah Vardy, the wife of Leicester striker Jamie, has lost her libel battle against Coleen Rooney as a trial that has become known as the ‘Wagatha Christie’ case comes to a close. The trial relates to accusations made by Rooney, the partner of former Manchester United and England star Wayne, regarding alleged leaking of personal information by Vardy to the national press.
Rooney famously posted on Instagram in 2019 “It’s…..Rebekah Vardy’s account”, leading to two high-profile figures becoming embroiled in a long-running legal saga that generated plenty of interest within the worlds of sport and pop culture.
Vardy protested her innocence from the off and sued for libel in June 2020 after receiving no apology from Rooney.
Her case has been unsuccessful, with Mrs Justice Steyn determining that it was “likely” that Vardy’s former agent, Caroline Watt, had “undertook the direct act” of passing information to The Sun newspaper.
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.”
Mrs Justic Steyn went on to say: “In my judgment, the conclusions that I have reached as to the extent to which the claimant engaged in disclosing to The Sun information to which she only had access as a permitted follower of an Instagram account which she knew, and Mrs Rooney repeatedly asserted, was private, suffice to show the single meaning is substantially true.”
Addressing Vardy’s evidence, Mars Justice Steyn said: “It was evident that Mrs Vardy found the process of giving evidence stressful and, at times, distressing. I bear in mind when assessing her evidence the degree of stress she was naturally feeling, given the high-profile nature of the trial, the abuse that she has suffered since the reveal post was published, and the length of time she was in the witness box.
“Nevertheless, I find that it is, unfortunately, necessary to treat Mrs Vardy’s evidence with very considerable caution.
“There were many occasions when her evidence was manifestly inconsistent with the contemporaneous documentary evidence, eg. in relation to the World Cup 2018 and the photoshopped pictures, and others where she was evasive.
“Mrs Vardy was generally unwilling to make factual concessions, however implausible her evidence.
“This inevitably affects my overall view of her credibility, although I have borne in mind that untruthful evidence may be given to mask guilt or to fortify innocence.”
While Vardy’s case has been thrown out, Mrs Justic Steyn feels “vile abuse” aimed in her direction has gone over the top.
She added: “Some members of the public have responded to the reveal post by subjecting Mrs Vardy to vile abuse, including messages wishing her, her family, and even her then-unborn baby, ill in the most awful terms.
“Nothing of which Mrs Vardy has been accused, nor any of the findings in this judgment, provide any justification or excuse for subjecting her or her family, or any other person involved in this case, to such vitriol.”
Legal costs for both sides are believed to have exceeded £1 million, with even the victors likely to recover only around 70 per cent of that bill.