Rebekah Vardy has lost her ‘Wagatha Christie’ libel battle against Coleen Rooney over a viral social media post, after a High Court judge found it was ‘essentially true’.
In the October 2019 post, Ms Rooney, 36, said she had been carrying out a months-long ‘sting operation’ and accused Ms Vardy, 40, of leaking ‘false stories’ about her life to the press private.
Ex-British star Wayne Rooney’s wife has publicly claimed Ms Vardy’s account was the source behind three stories in The sun newspaper with fake details that he had posted in his private Instagram Stories.
Ms Vardy, who is married to Leicester forward Jamie Vardy, denied leaking stories to the media and is suing her fellow footballer’s wife for libel, while Ms Rooney defended the complaint on the basis of the fact that his post was “essentially true”.
Both women attended a week-long trial in London’s High Court earlier this year, which attracted a huge amount of press attention.
The trial has generated so much interest that it is the subject of two television programmes: a Channel 4 film airing this week which sets out to ‘re-create the high drama, high stakes High Court libel case’ and a three-part Disney+ documentary.
Below are the six key lines of Ms Justice Steyn’s ruling:
Vardy has been “actively engaged” in passing information from Rooney’s Instagram to The Sun
In her ruling, Justice Steyn said it was “likely” that Ms Vardy’s agent at the time, Caroline Watt, “took the direct act” of passing the information to The Sun.
“I found Ms. Vardy was part of the wedding, birthday, Halloween, sleepover, car crash, gender selection, babysitting and flooded basement spots disclosure in the sun,” said the judge.
He added: “However, the evidence … clearly shows, in my view, that Ms Vardy knew about and condoned this behaviour, actively engaging in directing Ms Watts private Instagram account, sending her screenshots of Ms Rooney’s posts, draw attention to items of potential press interest and respond to additional questions raised by the press via Ms. Watt.
Vardy’s evidence during the trial was “manifestly inconsistent,” the judge says
Ms Steyn found that Rebekah Vardy’s evidence in the trial was “manifestly inconsistent” with other evidence on “many occasions”.
In her view, she said: “It was evident that Ms Vardy found the deposition process stressful and, at times, distressing. I keep in mind when assessing her evidence the degree of stress she was naturally experiencing, given the high-profile nature of the trial, the abuse she has experienced since the revealing post was made, and the length of time in witnessed box.”
The judge added: “However, I find it sadly necessary to treat Ms Vardy’s evidence with great caution.
“This inevitably affects my general view of his credibility, although I have kept in mind that false evidence can be provided to disguise guilt or reinforce innocence.”
Vardy chose not to call the officer to testify as it would prove “untrue,” the judge suggests
Ms Steyn said Vardy chose not to call her agent Caroline Watt to testify in part because she knew her evidence “would turn out to be false”.
Ms Watt was expected to testify in support of Ms Vardy, however, she withdrew her evidence before the trial, with the court saying it was due to ill health.
The judge said: “I accept that your health has been affected by these proceedings. Partly, no doubt, because he is not someone who has been, or ever tried to be, in the public eye, and being a key witness in a trial of this nature would have been uncomfortable even if he had nothing to do with it. Do. hide.
“However, I am forced to conclude that the main reason Ms. Watt was so reluctant to testify, and suffered adversely from pressure to do so, was that she knew that to a large extent the evidence in her statements was false.
“In my view, the applicant’s decision not to attempt to call Ms. Watt, against her wishes, was motivated, to a substantial extent, by concern for her friend’s well-being.”
Watt likely dropped his phone into the sea ‘deliberately’
Ms Steyn said the likelihood that the loss of Caroline Watt’s phone was accidental was ‘slim’ and that it was ‘likely’ that she had deliberately dropped her phone into the sea.
Ms Watt said her phone fell into the North Sea while she was filming the Scottish coast in August 2021. In her view, Ms Steyn said an order was placed on 4 August 2021 for the inspection of the Mrs Watt’s phone.
He said: “The timing is astonishing … the likelihood that the leak Ms Watt describes was accidental is slim.”
The judge continued: “It is likely that the WhatsApp chat between her and Ms Vardy, as well as exchanges with reporters, were available on Ms Watt’s phone when she was informed shortly after the revealing post that such evidence had to be keep”.
Ms Steyn added: “In my judgment, it is likely that Ms Vardy deliberately deleted her WhatsApp chat with Ms Watt and that Ms Watt deliberately dropped her phone into the sea.”
Degree of “self-deception” in the role of Vardy in the leaks
Ms Steyn said there was “a certain degree of self-deception” on Vardy’s part about her role in disclosing information.
She said: “Although significant parts of Ms Vardy’s evidence were not credible, my assessment is that she is genuinely offended by the allegation made against her by Ms (Coleen) Rooney in the disclosure post.
«Ms. Vardy’s role in disclosing information a The sun it was, it seems to me, thoughtless rather than part of a considered and concerted business practice.
“Consequently, there was a degree of self-deception on her part about the extent to which she was involved, as well as a degree of justified resentment at the exaggerated way in which her role was sometimes presented during the litigation.”
Vardy probably leaked more information from Rooney’s account
Ms Steyn said in her judgment that it is likely that further information from the private Instagram account was passed on to the press by Watt and Vardy, adding that it was clear that the information passed on to the press would not necessarily be published.
“Given the available evidence and my conclusions regarding the missing evidence, it is appropriate to draw the conclusion that Ms Vardy and Ms Watt together leaked more information from the private Instagram account during 2017-2019 than to what is contained in the eight posts I referred to,” he said.