Coleen Rooney has claimed to have caught another footballer's wife passing her private information to the Sun, after apparently running an elaborate sting operation that involved placing false stories in the tabloid newspaper.
Rooney, an online influencer who is married to the former England international Wayne, said she was forced to act after a series of posts taken on her private social media account appeared in the media. She has now publicly accused Rebekah Vardy, the wife of fellow England footballer Jamie Vardy, of being the individual who was leaking the private information.
Vardy has denied any involvement and suggested someone else may have had access to the password for her Instagram account. The Sun has yet to comment, although one of the stories, billed as an exclusive, appears to have already been pulled from the newspaper's website.
Rooney said in a statement: “For a few years now someone who I trusted to follow me on my personal Instagram account has been consistently informing the Sun newspaper of my private posts and stories. There has been so much information given to them about me, my friends and my family - all without my permission or knowledge.
“After a long time of trying to figure out who it could be, for various reasons, I had a suspicion. To try and prove this I came with an idea. I blocked everyone from viewing my Instagram stories except one account. (Those on my private account must have been wondering why I haven’t had stories on there for a while.)
"Over the past five months I have posted a series of false stories to see if they made their way into the Sun newspaper. And you know what, they did! The story about gender selection in Mexico, the story about returning to TV and then the latest story about basement flooding in my new house.
“It’s been tough keeping it to myself and not making any comment at all, especially when the stories have been leaked, however I had to. Now I know from certain which account/individual it’s come from.
“I have saved and screenshotted all the original stories which clearly show just one person has viewed them. It’s... Rebekah Vardy’s account.”
In response Vardy said she had never spoken to journalists about Rooney, even though many had called her.
She also appeared to imply that her Instagram account may have been improperly accessed by a third party: “If you thought this was happening you could have told me and I could have changed my passwords to see if it stopped.
“Over the years various people have had access to my Insta and just this week I found I was following people I didn’t know and have never followed myself. I’m not being funny but I don’t need the money, what would I gain from selling stories on you? I liked you a lot Coleen and I’m so upset that you have chosen to do this, especially when I’m heavily pregnant. I’m disgusted that I’m even having to deny this.”
The claims come at an awkward time for the Sun, which is already facing a legal case from Prince Harry against its publisher News Group Newspapers for alleged phone hacking.
It has also had to deal with a hefty pushback against its decision to investigate the family background of the England cricket player Ben Stokes.