Rebekah Vardy said it was “war” after Coleen Rooney publicly accused her fellow footballer’s wife of leaking stories to the press, the High Court has heard.
A series of messages also showed Mrs Vardy’s agent and PR admitted leaking information to the press about Mrs Rooney, writing: “It was me.”
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In an October 2019 Twitter post, Mrs Rooney (pictured, left) accused Mrs Vardy (right) of leaking stories about her private life after carrying out a months-long “sting operation”.
The wife of former England star Wayne Rooney, dubbed “Wagatha Christie”, claimed Mrs Vardy had shared fake stories she had posted on her personal Instagram account with The Sun.
Mrs Vardy, who is married to Leicester City striker Jamie, denies the accusations and is suing Mrs Rooney for libel.
At the start of a two-day hearing on Tuesday, the High Court heard that WhatsApp messages between Mrs Vardy and her PR and friend Caroline Watt had been disclosed ahead of the trial.
On the day of Mrs Rooney’s Twitter post which ended “It’s………. Rebekah Vardy’s account”, Mrs Vardy sent a message to Ms Watt, stating: “That’s war.”
Mrs Rooney’s lawyers previously claimed that Mrs Vardy had leaked information to The Sun either directly or through Ms Watt “acting on her instruction or with her knowing approval”.
In written arguments, Mrs Rooney’s barrister David Sherborne said: “From the outset, Mrs Vardy has always claimed that neither she nor Ms Watt were involved in the leaking of private information from Mrs Rooney’s Instagram account.
“The recent disclosure has shown that this is emphatically not the case.”
According to Mrs Rooney’s written case, messages exchanged between Mrs Vardy and Ms Watt in January 2019 showed the pair discussing a post on Mrs Rooney’s private Instagram where her car had been damaged.
Mrs Vardy told Ms Watt she “would love to leak those stories x”.
Mr Sherborne said Ms Watt was later responsible for the leak of the story to the newspaper, with Mrs Vardy’s approval.
Days after the story about her car was published in The Sun, Mrs Rooney posted a tweet saying it was “sad” someone who followed her was “betraying” her.
According to written submissions, while discussing the tweet in a private WhatsApp conversation, Ms Watt told Mrs Vardy “It wasn’t someone she trusted. It was me”, in a message accompanied by a laughing emoji.
Mr Sherborne said in written arguments that this “conspicuously elicits neither surprise, contradiction or criticism from Mrs Vardy, who was plainly aware and approved of this leak”.
At the hearing on Tuesday, Mr Sherborne said Mrs Rooney had brought a claim against Ms Watt for misuse of private information, which Ms Watt denies.
The barrister later claimed Mrs Vardy had “animosity” towards Mrs Rooney which showed “clear motivation for Mrs Vardy to leak private information about Mrs Rooney to the newspaper, with repeated bad-mouthing of her in a way which is clearly consistent with and linked to the desire to leak private information about her”.
In other WhatsApp messages shown in written submissions, Mrs Vardy refers to Mrs Rooney as a “nasty bitch” and “such a dick”.
Mr Sherborne later said in written arguments that a plan was “hatched” between Mrs Vardy and Ms Watt over the leaks, which the barrister described as a “classic smoking gun”.
Mr Sherborne told the court that Mrs Vardy had the means, opportunity and motive to leak stories about Mrs Rooney.
“Mrs Vardy and her sidekick Ms Watt had a clear hostility or animus towards Mrs Rooney,” he said.
“They had the means to leak the stories, they had the access to Mrs Rooney’s private Instagram account, indeed at times they were the only people that did.”
“She had the opportunity to do so,” he said, adding that Mrs Vardy and Ms Watts had “close links and relationships with The Sun”.
“The only other (part) was the motive, the animus,” Mr Sherborne concluded.
At Tuesday’s hearing, Mrs Rooney’s lawyers applied for further information, including from Ms Watt and Mrs Vardy’s messages.
Hugh Tomlinson QC, for Mrs Vardy, said the denied allegations have caused her “huge damage and distress”.
In written arguments, the barrister said the information and messages disclosed “provides no evidence that the claimant leaked the three fake posts”.
He added that Mrs Rooney “relies upon selective and incomplete WhatsApp exchanges…conveniently ignoring the messages which demonstrate beyond doubt that the claimant was not responsible for leaking the defendant’s private information to The Sun.”
In further WhatsApp messages between her and Ms Watt, Mrs Vardy said she had supported Mrs Rooney and suggested it was Mrs Rooney’s own PR who had leaked stories.
“What a joke! All I’ve ever been is nice to her though! Even when Wayne was being a c*** x,” Mrs Vardy wrote.
She later added: “Bet it’s their PR again has to be x… I really can’t see anyone being that arsed with selling stories on her.”
Ian Helme, for Ms Watt, said she had given “clear and consistent” denials against the claim for misuse of private information.
In written arguments, the barrister said that it was not only Mrs Vardy’s Instagram account that had viewed the post about Mrs Rooney’s car, adding that the incident also took place in public.
“It is difficult to see how there could be said to be any reasonable expectation of privacy in relation to such information,” Mr Helme said.
He later said that Mrs Rooney’s lawyers had taken “an extremely aggressive, confrontational, no-stone-unturned approach”, calling the claim against her an abuse of process.
Mr Helme also said it can be inferred that Mrs Rooney’s primary concern is “public opinion, or vindication”.
He continued: “It appears quite clear that the defendant has determined that publicity generated by success in defending the claim against her will far exceed the value of any remedy she could attain as a claimant.”
The trial is due to begin in early May of this year but it is likely this date may change. The hearing before Mrs Justice Steyn is due to finish on Wednesday.
Picture: PA Wire/PA Images