Wagatha

Wagatha Christie: Rebekah Vardy loses libel case against Coleen Rooney

Rebekah Vardy has lost the High Court ‘Wagatha Christie’ libel battle she fought against Coleen Rooney over a viral social media post.

In her ruling, Judge Steyn said Rooney had successfully established that the essence of his social media post was ‘essentially true’ – meaning that Vardy was responsible for leaking his private information to the press.

In her conclusion, she said: “I discovered that Ms Vardy was party to the disclosure to The Sun… Ms Vardy was aware of this behavior and tolerated it, actively engaging in it by directing Ms Watt to the account. Private Instagram, sending her screenshots of Ms. Rooney’s posts, drawing attention to items that may be of interest to the press, and responding to additional questions raised by the press via Ms. Watt.”

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Some of Rooney’s fake messages, shown during the trial

Caroline Watt was Vardy’s agent and friend, and had been implicated in leaking private messages during court testimony. She did not testify at the hearing.

The court praised Rooney’s testimony as “honest and reliable”, but called Vardy’s testimony “grossly inconsistent … evasive or implausible”.

She added: “Nevertheless, I find it necessary, unfortunately, to treat Ms Vardy’s testimony with very great caution.

“There were numerous occasions where her testimony was clearly inconsistent with contemporary documentary evidence, for example in relation to the 2018 World Cup and photoshopped photos, and others where she was evasive.

Mrs Justice Steyn continued: “Ms Vardy was generally unwilling to make factual concessions, however implausible her evidence might be.

Wayne Rooney was in court supporting his wife, Coleen
Image:
Wayne Rooney was in court supporting his wife, Coleen

“This inevitably affects my overall view of his credibility, although I have kept in mind that false evidence may be given to mask guilt or to fortify innocence.”

Rooney’s friend, former WAG Lizzie Cundy told Sky News she was “not surprised” at the outcome and knew Rooney would only have released the original reveal message if she was “sure 100% that was correct.”

She said that when the spat started she even suggested to Rooney and Vardy that they ‘Come and have some prosecco and some nuts and sort this out’, adding: ‘Now Rebekah is going to be thinking, ‘I should have to listen “”.

Cundy continued: “Unfortunately for Becky the proof wasn’t there, it was at the bottom of the North Sea.”

She continued: “It’s sad it’s come this far… But it was Rebekah who wanted this to come to court.”

The judge said: “It was evident that Ms Vardy found the process of testifying stressful and, at times, distressing. I bear in mind when assessing her testimony the degree of stress she naturally felt, considering given the high-profile nature of the trial, the abuse she has suffered since the tell-all message was posted, and the length of time she has been on the witness stand.”

Vardy had continued Rooney after having been publicly accused of leaking ‘false stories’ to the media in 2019the high-profile trial taking place at the High Court in London in May.

Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney

Former England international Wayne Rooney’s wife has been dubbed ‘Wagatha Christie’ after claiming three fake stories posted on her personal Instagram page – which unbeknownst to Vardy at the time were only shared with his account – had been passed on to The Sun newspaper.

Vardy, who is married to Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy, denied leaking the stories and reminded the court of how she thought she might faint when she first heard of Rooney’s claims – which occurred while she was heavily pregnant.

Later in the trial, she got flustered several times while answering questions on the witness stand about the online trolling she and her family suffered following the allegations.

In her judgment, the judge referenced some of the ‘despicable abuse’ Vardy had received online – which included a message that someone said her baby should be cremated – she said there was no “no justification or excuse…for such vitriol.”

During the case, the court also heard details of text messages she exchanged with her agent, Ms Watt, which appeared to show them discussing with the press leaked stories about other celebrities and footballers.

Wayne Rooney was among the witnesses who testified and supported his wife in the courtroom every day. He told the court that he was asked during Euro 2016 to have a word with Jamie Vardy to ask his wife to “calm down” as publicity grew around the tournament.

Text messages sent between Vardys during the tournament were also released, along with the fake Instagram posts that sparked the whole lawsuit.

In written submissions to the court, Vardy’s solicitor Hugh Tomlinson QC argued that although the case had been trivialized as ‘WAG Wars’ it had had a ‘very profound’ impact on his client’s life , leading to “high-intensity abuse and defamation”.

The 40-year-old suffered “tremendous distress” over Rooney’s claims and “had no choice” but to bring her to justice “to establish her innocence and uphold her reputation”, Mr. Tomlinson said.

Wagatha Christie

However, in written submissions from Rooney, 36, barrister David Sherborne said his client felt “absolutely confident” in the investigation she conducted to find the source of the leaks and that her “authentication was as thorough as many newsrooms”.

Testifying, Rooney told the judge she had tried three times “unsuccessfully” to prevent the case from going to court.

The fake stories included Rooney’s trip to Mexico for a baby “gender selection” procedure, planning a TV comeback, and his home’s basement flooding.

“I have recorded and captured all of the original stories that clearly show only one person saw them,” Rooney wrote in the internet post that quickly went viral.

“This is the account of……….Rebekah Vardy.”


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