Rebekah Vardy‘s children were abused at school as a result of Coleen Rooney‘s ‘Wagatha Christie’ Instagram post accusing their mother of leaking stories, the High Court heard today as the celebrity libel action of century returned.
Mrs Vardy, 39, launched her £1.5m claim after Coleen, 35, accused her in her October 2019 ‘Wagatha Christie’ Instagram post of being the source of leaks to the media on stories about her.
The court has heard how peace talks between the warring WAGs broke down during mediation and the case is now expected to go to a full trial.
Hugh Tomlinson QC for Rebekah Vardy, told the libel court today that the case had been extremely serious, despite the ‘highly entertaining stories in the media referring to the Wagatha Christie… she suffered widespread abuse and hostility as a result of the post for a long period and her children were also abused at school. It was a very serious matter for her’.
The long-running feud between the high-profile WAGS erupted after Coleen revealed that she had set a trap to see who was responsible for the leaks, which earned her the nickname Wagatha Christie.
Coleen famously wrote: ‘I have saved and screenshotted all the original stories which clearly show just one person has viewed them. It’s ……………. Rebekah Vardy’s account.’
Rebekah Vardy claims allegations by Coleen Rooney caused turmoil for her and her children, who she claims have been abused in the playground
Mrs Rooney wrote on Instagram and Twitter: ‘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 a notorious post that sparked the Wagatha Christie libel battle
Rebekah Vardy sold stories for cash and to boost her profile, says Coleen’s QC
Coleen Rooney’s barrister David Sherborne argued that the ‘exceptionally close relationship’ Mrs Vardy is said to have had with The Sun is a key part of the case.
In written submissions, Mr Sherborne said Mrs Vardy had a ‘habitual practice’ of providing private information to the press to promote her profile.
He said: ‘The timing of positive coverage of the claimant in The Sun was strikingly close to the publication of other articles … that were leaked from the defendant’s private Instagram.
‘This supports the inference that the claimant was benefiting from the leak of private information about the defendant to the newspaper.’
Mr Sherborne added that that Mrs Vardy used her close relationship with The Sun or its journalists ‘for the purposes of promoting or financially exploiting her public profile’.
The barrister later claimed that Mrs Vardy would receive a split of commission and revenue for stories given to The Sun through the Front Row Partnership, a PR agency where Mrs Vardy was a client.
Mrs Vardy has denied any knowledge or authorisation of passing on private information.
Soon after, Rebekah took to social media to deny being the person who had leaked the stories to the press, after Coleen’s post went viral
Rebekah’s team have now launched a bid to have large parts of Coleen’s defence in the ongoing libel case struck out.
Mr Tomlinson told Mrs Justice Steyn: ‘The purpose of this application is to clear away a mass of irrelevant and peripheral material in order to save time and costs and focus on the main issues in the case.’
But Rebekah’s move was branded a ‘tactical exercise’ to avoid having to disclose matters which will prove Coleen’s case is correct, according to her lawyer David Sherborne.
Coleen’s team say in submissions that the sections which Rebekah is seeking to remove are ‘plainly relevant and proportionate’ and the argument that leaving them in will substantially increase the costs of the trial is ‘seriously overstated and bears no real scrutiny’.
Coleen’s skeleton argument which is before the court, adds: ‘Another factor that should be borne in mind is that the Claimant [Rebekah] is seeking to remove what are, no doubt, paragraphs that [she] finds uncomfortable and embarrassing. ‘
The document adds: ‘Not only did the Claimant authorise other individuals who she has admitted had access to her Instagram account…to leak these false stories to The Sun newspaper, but this was part of an established practice she had of leaking private information through this means to the same journalists with whom she had an exceptionally close relationship, information relating not just to the Defendant [Coleen] but also to others in her footballing circle, all for the purposes of increasing her profile or obtaining personal benefit. ‘
Rebekah sued her WAG rival last June, claiming she ‘suffered extreme distress, hurt, anxiety and embarrassment as a result of the publication of the post and the events which followed’.
In her written case, Rebekah’s lawyers said the abuse she received made her ‘feel suicidal’, adding: ‘She suffered from severe panic attacks and anxiety which manifested in being scared to leave her house.’
She claimed her husband Jamie was targeted during football matches, with opposition fans chanting ‘your wife is a grass’ for up to five minutes at a time.
But Mrs Rooney’s lawyers said the post was ‘entirely legitimate and justified’ and referred to Rebekah’s ‘exceptionally close relationship’ with The Sun and some of its journalists.
An attempt at mediation, to try to resolve the case without a trial, took place earlier this year.
While the two WAGs’ dispute continues, their husbands are still on speaking terms.
Wayne, 35, publicly showed his support for 34-year-old amie this month when it was revealed the Leicester City star would not be part of the England squad for the Euros.
‘One man I wish was in Gareth’s [Southgate’s] squad is Jamie Vardy,’ he wrote in his Sunday Times column.
‘I would have tried absolutely everything to lure him out of retirement for these finals.’
Rebekah Vardy (top) and Coleen Rooney watch England v Wales during Euro 2016 at Stade Bollaert-Delelis in Lens, France. Mrs Rooney, 34, accused Mrs Vardy, 38, of giving the press ‘false stories’ about her private life last October after carrying out a months-long ‘sting operation’ which saw her dubbed ‘Wagatha Christie’
Mentioning the two women’s feud: ‘I know some people may be surprised at this, especially with the legal case between my wife and Jamie’s wife, but this is my honest football opinion.’
The wife of ex-England footballer Wayne Rooney is being sued by her former friend after publicly accusing her of leaking stories about her private life. The bitter dispute has raged for 18 months.
In March friends of Mrs Rooney said she is considering throwing in the towel because her legal team are struggling to find vital evidence.
Friends of Mrs Rooney (pictured) said earlier this year she is considering throwing in the towel – but the case is still going
One told The Mail on Sunday: ‘She is still convinced she’s in the right but that is very different from being able to prove it in a court of law. She wanted to settle this amicably ages ago but to her dismay, it has dragged on.’
Lawyers said the total estimated legal bill to date stands at £1.3 million – £900,000 for Mrs Vardy and £400,000 for Mrs Rooney.
In the event of a trial, whoever loses will probably have to meet the other’s costs as well as their own. Damages could take the loser’s bill to more than £2 million.
It is understood that Mrs Vardy is asking that Mrs Rooney pays her costs and damages and issues a public apology.
A source close to Mrs Vardy, whose husband Jamie played for England with her rival’s husband, said: ‘Rebekah will not drop her demands of a sorry from Coleen. She feels that a lot of pain and upset has been caused by the accusations against her.’
The dispute began in 2019 when Mrs Rooney, 34, publicly accused Mrs Vardy, 39, of leaking stories from her private Instagram account. In a ‘sting operation’ that earned her the nickname Wagatha Christie, she turned detective to find out where newspaper stories about her were coming from.
Mrs Vardy is asking that Mrs Rooney pays her costs and damages and issues a public apology – with bill expected to exceed £1.5m
The mother-of-four planted fake posts on her private Instagram account, then claimed to have blocked all of her followers except Mrs Vardy, who is now claiming aggravated damages and seeking an injunction preventing Mrs Rooney from repeating the allegations. An effort to resolve the dispute through mediation failed earlier this month and plans for a full trial were made.
Court papers filed by Mrs Rooney last year claimed Mrs Vardy was the ‘Secret WAG’ behind an anonymous column in The Sun on Sunday. Last summer, Mrs Rooney instructed celebrity barrister David Sherborne to represent her.
Last night a spokesperson for Mrs Rooney declined to comment.