Coleen Rooney refused permission to bring claim against Rebekah Vardy's agent

Coleen Rooney denied permission to bring claim against Rebekah Vardy's agent in Sun 'leak' case

Coleen Rooney has been refused permission to bring a High Court claim against Rebekah Vardy’s agent as part of an ongoing legal battle between the footballers’ wives over an online post about alleged leaks to The Sun.

In an October 2019 Twitter post, Mrs Rooney (pictured, left), 35, accused Mrs Vardy (right), 39, of leaking stories about her private life after a months-long “sting operation”.

The wife of former England star Wayne Rooney, dubbed “Wagatha Christie”, claimed Mrs Vardy had shared fake stories she posted on her personal Instagram account with The Sun newspaper.

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

Mrs Rooney’s lawyers previously claimed that Mrs Vardy had leaked information to The Sun either directly or through her agent Caroline Watt “acting on her instruction or with her knowing approval”.

Mrs Rooney asked for permission to bring an “additional claim” against Ms Watt for misuse of private information and wanted it to be heard alongside the libel case.

Her barrister David Sherborne told the court last week that if Mrs Vardy wins her claim on the basis that she was not the person who leaked the information, then Mrs Rooney will be left without “vindication” unless she is able to bring the claim against Ms Watt as part of the same case.

Mrs Vardy’s lawyers opposed the application to add the claim against Ms Watt to the libel case.

In a ruling on Monday, following a two-day hearing last week, Mrs Justice Steyn refused permission for the additional claim against Ms Watt and refused permission for it to be heard alongside the libel trial.

However, the judge gave the go-ahead for Mrs Rooney to amend her defence case, to include an allegation that Ms Vardy, through Ms Watt, provided information to The Sun about an unnamed professional footballer.

She also gave permission for disclosure of WhatsApp messages between Mrs Vardy and Ms Watt during the relevant period, and allowed Mrs Rooney’s application for an order that both parties make a joint request for information to Instagram.

During the two-day hearing last week, the High Court heard that some WhatsApp messages between Mrs Vardy and Ms Watt had been disclosed ahead of the trial.

Mrs Justice Steyn said in her ruling that some of these messages, which had been redacted but could be read by Mrs Rooney’s legal team because of a “software error”, should have been made available.

These included a message where Mrs Vardy told Ms Watt she “would love to leak those stories x”, which Mrs Rooney’s lawyers claim refers to her private information.

Discussing this text in her ruling, Mrs Justice Steyn said: “First, in circumstances where, in the midst of a WhatsApp account that appears on its face, and I do not understand it to be disputed, to concern the defendant, the claimant states that she would ‘love to leak those stories’, I do not accept that it is open to the claimant’s representatives to make the determination, on the basis of their client’s instructions, that she was not referring to stories about the defendant.

“That may or may not be so, it is a matter for trial.”

She refused other disclosure applications made by both Mrs Rooney and Mrs Vardy.

In a remote hearing following Monday’s judgment, Mrs Justice Steyn ordered Mrs Rooney to pay £65,000 towards Ms Watt’s legal costs following the unsuccessful bid to join her to the libel case.

The judge said: “It seems to me that is a reasonable and proportionate sum.”

She added: “It is fair to say that a considerable period of time would have been needed given the standing-start the respondent had for what is, for the respondent, quite a substantial application.”

The court heard the date for the pre-trial review had not changed and was expected on 13 April. The trial is due to take place in May, but may be delayed.

Picture: PA Wire/PA Images



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