Rebekah Vardy denies leaking Coleen Rooney stories in 'Wagatha Christie' libel trial

Wife of Premier League footballer sworn in as witness during libel action at High Court in London

Rebekah Vardy has denied she leaked news stories involving Coleen Rooney as she was sworn in as a witness during a libel trial at the High Court in London.

Ms Rooney, 36, accused Ms Vardy, 40, of leaking “false stories” about her private life to the media in October 2019 after she said she had carried out a months-long “sting operation”.

The wife of former England star Wayne Rooney was called “Wagatha Christie” when she publicly claimed the fellow footballer’s wife shared three fake stories she had posted on her personal Instagram account with The Sun newspaper.

Ms Vardy, who is married to Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy, denies the accusations and is suing Ms Rooney for libel.

Under questioning from Ms Rooney’s lawyer David Sherborne, she agreed with his proposition that it was “wrong” and “upsetting” for someone to secretly pass on another person’s information that they did not want shared.

Ms Vardy later added: “I didn’t leak anything to anyone.”

The fake stories included Ms Rooney travelling to Mexico for a “gender selection” procedure, her planning to return to TV and the basement flooding at her home.

In a post on Twitter and Instagram, Ms Rooney wrote: “I have saved and screenshotted all the original stories which clearly show just one person has viewed them.

“It’s ………. Rebekah Vardy’s account.”

After months of preliminary hearings, Tuesday marked the start of the full trial which is due to last seven days.

Ms Rooney arrived at the Royal Courts of Justice on Tuesday with her husband, also 36, who had a trophy-laden career with Manchester United and is now manager of Derby County.

Wearing a black suit and with her foot in a brace, she entered the Royal Courts of Justice on the Strand by the front entrance, flanked by a crowd of photographers.

Ms Vardy arrived moments after Ms Rooney entered the building, wearing sunglasses and a long blue dress.

Both women sat at the front of the court, in front of their barristers, as the hearing began.

Ms Vardy’s barrister, Hugh Tomlinson QC, said the TV personality had to bring the libel claim to “vindicate her reputation”.

He said in written submissions: “The allegation in the post was and remains false: Ms Vardy had not leaked information about Ms Rooney or her friends and family to The Sun newspaper from her private Instagram account.

“Ms Rooney did not have the ‘irrefutable’ evidence that she claimed to have had: her so-called ‘careful investigation’ was nothing of the sort.

“If anyone had been leaking information from Ms Rooney’s private Instagram, this was not done with Ms Vardy’s knowledge or approval.”

He continued: “Ms Vardy made strenuous but unsuccessful attempts to settle the case but the post was not taken down.

“As result, Ms Vardy had no choice but to bring this libel action to establish her innocence and vindicate her reputation.”

Mr Tomlinson told the court that, as a result of the post, Ms Vardy, who was seven months pregnant at the time, and her family were subjected to horrible abuse.

He said her husband was also subjected to chants about her during football matches.

Mr Tomlinson said the affair and subsequent libel case had become the subject of intense press coverage and a source of “entertainment” in the media, being referred to as “Wag Wars” and “Wagatha Christie”.

He added: “This is far from being an entertaining case; it has been profoundly distressing and disturbing.”

He said Ms Rooney’s post on Instagram was liked about 93,000 times while the Twitter post received more than 300,000 likes.

Mr Tomlinson added: “[Ms Vardy] needs to be able to clear her name through this case, so she can move on from this terrible episode.”

Ms Rooney is defending the claim on the basis of truth and public interest.

In written submissions, her barrister Mr Sherborne said there were “numerous examples of the claimant and Ms [Caroline] Watt conspiring to pass private and personal information on to the press about other individuals”.

He continued: “In short, the claimant is someone who has secretly provided, or sought to provide, to the press private information which she has been privy to in relation to a number of individuals in the footballing world or other celebrities, and not just the defendant, without their consent.”

The barrister later said there had been “widespread and significant destruction or loss of evidence” in the case, which notably include the loss of Ms Watt’s phone in the North Sea.

“To borrow from Wilde, to lose one significant set of documents may be regarded as a misfortune, to lose two, carelessness, but to lose 10? That must be concealment,” he wrote.

The trial is ongoing, with a decision from the judge expected in writing at a later date.

Updated: May 11, 2022, 3:03 PM
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