Rebekah Vardy denies leaking stories as she launches ‘Wagatha Christie’ libel action

Vardy is seeking substantial damages for ‘public ridicule’ after claim by Coleen Rooney

Coleen Rooney (L) and Rebekah Vardy. Photograph: PA

Coleen Rooney (L) and Rebekah Vardy. Photograph: PA

 

Rebekah Vardy has strongly denied leaking stories about Coleen Rooney to The Sun newspaper, in the latest stage of the high-profile “Wagatha Christie” legal battle between the two footballers’ wives.

Ms Vardy has said she is seeking substantial damages as a result of the “public ridicule and contempt” that she has suffered since an allegation by Ms Rooney over the passing of information from a private Instagram account to reporters at the tabloid.

Ms Rooney, who is married to the former England soccer player Wayne Rooney, claimed that, after a series of stories were published on her private life, she spent five months slowly reducing the number of people who could see her updates on Instagram Stories until only Ms Vardy’s account remained. She claims she then posted an update about a fabricated story on her account, and when the story subsequently ended up in The Sun, she went public with the accusation that Ms Vardy’s account was responsible.

Ms Vardy, who has always strongly denied passing stories to the newspaper, has now launched a libel action and claimed in court filings she had been made a scapegoat to cover for supposedly “leaked” stories that had been previously published in the media about Coleen Rooney’s private life.

Ms Vardy alleged that in reality some of these stories about the Rooneys’ marriage “have in fact come from [Coleen Rooney’s] friends, at times even with [Coleen Rooney’s] approval”.

Ms Vardy’s legal team said that Ms Rooney had acted in a “calculated and deliberate manner that was designed to cause very serious harm and enormous distress” by publishing the accusation. In the court filings, Ms Vardy described the impact it had had on her and her family, claiming it had caused her severe anxiety and suicidal thoughts while pregnant. The court filings also detail at length many abusive posts on social media aimed at Ms Vardy featuring the snake emoji, and an extensive list of chants during soccer matches about her soccer player husband, Jamie Vardy.

Request for comment

A key issue is that, contrary to standard journalistic practice, Ms Rooney did not contact Ms Vardy with a request for comment prior to publishing the allegations. As a result, Ms Vardy did not have an opportunity to comment on whether the claims were true or have a chance to explain her position.

Ms Vardy, who has always said that other people may have had access to her Instagram account, said other people may have seen Ms Rooney’s posts and provided them to The Sun.

“Contrary to the impression given in the post that every false story led to an article in The Sun, in fact there were numerous false stories posted by [Rooney] between April and early October 2019 [as she whittled down those who could see her account] which did not result in publications,” said Ms Vardy’s lawyers. They suggested Ms Rooney went too far by saying she “knew for certain” the leak could only have come from Ms Vardy’s account.

Many of Ms Vardy’s claims for damages rely on the extent to which Ms Rooney’s phrase “It’s . . . Rebekah Vardy’s account” has become embedded as a meme in popular culture.

Among other incidents, Ms Vardy complained that during the 2019 general election, the then Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, tweeted: “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 for certain which individual is selling off our NHS. It’s . . . Boris Johnson. ”

Ms Vardy also complained that when German police said they had identified a new suspect in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, some people on Twitter joked that it could be her. Her lawyers provided a further example: “On November 2nd, 2019, several users on Twitter responded to president Donald Trump’s tweet ‘Isis has a new leader. We know exactly who he is!’, with ‘It’s . . . Rebekah Vardy’.”– Guardian