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Rebekah Vardy wins first round of legal battle with Coleen Rooney in 'Wagatha Christie' lawsuit

The judge found that the posts by Rooney “clearly identified” Vardy.

Rebekah Vardy arriving at training for ITV's Dancing on Ice.
Rebekah Vardy arriving at training for ITV's Dancing on Ice.
Image: PA Images

COLEEN ROONEY’S POST accusing Rebekah Vardy of leaking stories about her private life to the media “clearly identified” her as being “guilty of the serious and consistent breach of trust that she alleges”, the High Court has ruled.

Rooney, 34, accused Vardy, 38, of leaking “false stories” about her private life to the media last October after carrying out a months-long “sting operation” which saw her dubbed “Wagatha Christie”.

The wife of former England star Wayne Rooney claimed fellow footballer’s wife Vardy shared fake stories she had posted on her personal Instagram account with The Sun newspaper.

Rooney wrote on Instagram and Twitter: “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, denies the accusations and is suing Rooney for damages for libel.

In a judgment today, Mr Justice Warby ruled that the “natural and ordinary” meaning of Rooney’s posts was that Vardy had “regularly and frequently abused her status as a trusted follower of Ms Rooney’s personal Instagram account by secretly informing The Sun newspaper of Ms Rooney’s private posts and stories”.

Announcing his decision, the judge said that the meaning he had determined was “substantially the same as the claimant’s meaning”.

He also granted costs of £22,913.50 to Vardy pending the end of the trial.  

In his ruling, Mr Justice Warby said Mrs Rooney’s message was “a considered post, using wording composed with some care”, adding:

It would be clear to the ordinary reader from the outset that it was meant seriously, and intended to convey a message of some importance.

He also rejected Mrs Rooney’s contention that she simply referred to Vardy’s Instagram account, rather than Vardy herself.

The judge ruled: “I certainly do not think that the ordinary reader would take that single word (account), albeit repeated, to indicate that Mrs Rooney remains in doubt about who the wrongdoer was.”

He added: “There is nothing in these words, apart from the word ‘account’, that in any way suggests that the behaviour of which Mrs Rooney is complaining might have been carried out by anyone other than the account holder, Mrs Vardy.”

“I do not believe or assume that anything done on social media in the name of a personality might be done by someone else, without the knowledge or approval of the account holder,” the judge said.

“Nor do I believe that everyone thinks or believes or assumes these things. It is more likely that there is a range of facts, and a range of opinions, with some cynics thinking every tweet by every celebrity is made up by some PR and others naively believing that every such tweet is always the celebrity’s own unassisted work.” 

Defence

At a hearing on yesterday, 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 added: “In fact, she did nothing wrong. Whatever leaks there were did not come from her.”

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David Sherborne, representing Rooney, argued that it was “true” that Vardy was “responsible for consistently passing on information about the defendant’s private Instagram posts and stories to The Sun”.

He said: “Mrs Rooney intends to defend these words as true in whatever meaning.”

Tomlinson told the court he would be seeking costs of £22,913.50 from Rooney at this point as it is usual that “the losing party pays the costs”

Sherborne, for Rooney, said the meaning argued by Vardy’s lawyers and the meaning ruled by Mr Justice Warby were different in some respects and ultimately does not affect how the case proceeds.

He added: “It is true in either meaning because Mrs Vardy was responsible for the source of those leaks whether herself or through her agent.”

Mr Justice Warby granted costs to Mrs Vardy at this stage, rather than waiting for the end of the trial.

The court also heard both Vardy and Rooney had agreed for a “stay” of the proceedings until February, so there could be “one final attempt to resolve the matter without the need for a full trial”.

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