Rebakah Vardy has lost her High Court libel case against Coleen Rooney.
Vardy claimed Rooney had damaged her reputation with her “Wagatha Christie” investigation into who was leaking Instagram stories to the press, which Rooney deduced to be Vardy.
Mrs Justice Karen Steyn ruled that Rooney succeeded in establishing that the essence of the libel was “substantially true”.
A judgment released today, two months after the trial, by the High Court of Justice Queen’s Bench Division found that Vardy and her agent Caroline Watt were party to a number of false stories that Rooney posted on Instagram and that Watt directly passed those stories to a reporter at The Sun.
Vardy was actively involved in the process, Mrs Justice Steyn ruled. She also found there were gaps in Vardy’s evidence. Watt did not attend the trial and it was judged that the primary reason for this was because she knew that to a large extent the evidence she was due to give (but then withdrew) was untrue.
“Ms Vardy did not call her close friend and agent, Ms Watt, as a witness,” today’s ruling read. “Given the allegation that information from the private Instagram account was disclosed directly to journalists at The Sun by Ms Watt, with Ms Vardy’s knowledge and approval, Ms Watt is a vital witness to the matters in issue, whose absence is striking.”
Crucial WhatsApp messages between Vardy and Watt from 2017 and 2019 were missing and the judge decided that they were deliberately deleted.
The 75-page ruling document also criticized abuse Vardy has received online since the Rooney reveal post in 2019.
“Some members of the public have responded to the reveal post by subjecting Ms Vardy to vile abuse, including messages wishing her, her family, and even her (then unborn) baby, ill in the most awful terms,” the ruling stated.
“Nothing of which Ms Vardy has been accused, nor any of the findings in this judgment, provide any justification or excuse for subjecting her or her family, or any other person involved in this case, to such vitriol.”
A seven-day trial took place at the High Court in May.
Rooney famously posted on social media in October 2019 that she believed Vardy was responsible for leaking content from Rooney’s private Instagram account. Rooney described in court her “sting operation” to whittle down the number of followers who could view her Instagram posts in a bid to find out how stories about her were getting into the press, specifically The Sun newspaper.
She planted fake stories on Instagram and eventually made them visible to just one account, which belonged to Rebekah Vardy, who has always denied Rooney’s accusations and sued her for libel in 2020 in what she said was a last resort to “vindicate her reputation”.
Wayne Rooney, then Derby manager, attended court on almost every day of the trial, while Rebekah Vardy’s husband Jamie showed up on the day Wayne Rooney gave evidence about a meeting he said the pair had during Euro 2016, when Rooney says he was asked by manager Roy Hodgson to have a word with Vardy about his wife’s newspaper column. The Leicester striker denied the meeting ever took place, saying: “Wayne is talking nonsense.”
(Photo: Getty Images)
Wagatha Christie uncovered