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'Wagatha Christie' case reaches High Court as Rebekah Vardy sues Coleen Rooney for libel

Vardy denies that she leaked stories about Rooney to The Sun newspaper.

Rooney (L) and Vardy (R) were not in court for today's hearing.
Rooney (L) and Vardy (R) were not in court for today's hearing.
Image: PA Images

COLEEN ROONEY FALSELY accused Rebekah Vardy of a “clear betrayal of trust” for allegedly leaking stories about her private life, the High Court has heard.

Rooney, 34, was dubbed “Wagatha Christie” on social media for her apparent sleuthing work, having “posted a series of false stories to see if they made their way into The Sun” as part of a “sting operation”.

The wife of former England footballer Wayne Rooney claimed in October that fellow footballer’s wife Vardy, 38, shared the fake stories she had posted on her personal Instagram account.

Rooney wrote: “For a few years now someone who I trusted to follow me on my personal Instagram account has been consistently informing The Sun newspaper of my private posts and stories.”

She dramatically added: “I have saved and screenshotted all the original stories which clearly show just one person has viewed them.

“It’s ……………. Rebekah Vardy’s account.”

Vardy, who is married to Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy, has denied the accusations and is suing Rooney for damages for libel.

At the first hearing of their high-profile legal battle today, Mr Justice Warby is being asked to determine the “natural and ordinary” meaning of Rooney’s posts on Instagram and Twitter.

Vardy’s barrister Hugh Tomlinson QC said Rooney’s posts were an “untrue and unjustified defamatory attack” which was “published and republished to millions of people”.

He said Rooney’s accusation “leaves the reasonable reader in no doubt that the defendant is accusing the claimant of consistently and repeatedly betraying her trust over several years”.

He added:

In fact, she did nothing wrong. Whatever leaks there were did not come from her.

Tomlinson said Rooney’s post featured “a build-up to the ‘big reveal’ of the identity of the person responsible”, adding: “The description of the defendant’s detective work makes it clear that the claimant is being said to be responsible for the leaking of the three specific stories mentioned.”

Rooney claimed Vardy leaked three “false stories” she posted on Instagram about “gender selection in Mexico”, Rooney returning to TV, and the basement in her new house flooding.

Vardy’s lawyers argue that the meaning of Rooney’s posts was that she had “consistently and repeatedly betrayed the defendant’s trust over several years by leaking the defendant’s private and personal Instagram posts and stories for publication in The Sun”.

Rooney’s legal team say the posts mean “there are reasonable grounds to suspect that the claimant was responsible for consistently passing on information about the defendant’s private Instagram posts and stories to The Sun newspaper”.

David Sherborne, representing Rooney, said in written submissions:

It is true that the claimant was responsible for consistently passing on information about the defendant’s private Instagram posts and stories to The Sun, and that this was part of her history and practice of providing private information to the press, especially The Sun, with whom she had a very close relationship.

He said Rooney’s post accusing Vardy of leaking the stories “followed earlier warnings which the defendant had been forced to post publicly, as well as privately, as a result of information from her private social media accounts being leaked to The Sun”.

He added: “The defendant was so concerned that she even posted a number of fake stories on her private Instagram account in order to discover where the leak was coming from.”

Sherborne told the court Rooney conducted a “sting operation” to find out the source of the leaks, and “deliberately limited the accessibility to this private account and the sting operation stories” to just Mrs Vardy.

He said: “The fact that these sting operation stories also then appeared in The Sun, after access to her private account was limited to just the @beckyvardy account, is the reason why the defendant published the post which is the subject of this claim.

The impression the reader would take away would be the essential message, that it was Rebekah Vardy’s account that was the source of private stories about the defendant appearing in The Sun – not Rebekah Vardy herself.

“The impression the post gives the ordinary reader stops short of guilt.”

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Stress

In her written claim filed with the court, Vardy said she had worried she would lose her baby because of the stress as she was pregnant at the time.

Her barrister wrote that she felt suicidal, took three trips to hospital due to her anxiety, and worried about either going into early labour or losing her baby due to the stress.

Tomlinson said: “The claimant has suffered extreme distress, hurt, anxiety and embarrassment as a result of the publication of the post and the events which followed.

“The abuse that followed the post made the claimant feel suicidal. She suffered from severe panic attacks and anxiety which manifested in being scared to leave her house.”

The filing detailed some of the ways Rooney’s post was reported and repeated on social media.

Following a tweet from Donald Trump, some users joked that Vardy was the new leader of the so-called Islamic State terror group, while others later said she was involved in the disappearance of Madeline McCann.

Tomlinson added:

Following the police announcing that a new suspect had been identified in the disappearance of Madeline McCann, the claimant (Mrs Vardy) was the subject of a number of highly distressing publications on Twitter alleging she was the suspect.

Social media users also posted that Vardy was involved in a potential hack of the mobile video-conferencing app Houseparty in March this year.

Neither Vardy nor Rooney attended the hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.

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