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Wagatha Christie trial: Rebekah Vardy loses libel case against Coleen Rooney

Coleen Rooney (left) and Rebekah Vardy

Coleen Rooney (left) and Rebekah Vardy© PA

Rebekah Vardy and her husband Jamie

Rebekah Vardy and her husband Jamie© PA

Rebekah Vardy

Rebekah Vardy© PA

Coleen Rooney

Coleen Rooney© PA

Coleen Rooney and Wayne

Coleen Rooney and Wayne© PA

Christopher LeebodyBelfast Telegraph

Rebekah Vardy has lost her libel case against Coleen Rooney after the long-awaited verdict has brought the so-called Wagatha Christie trial to an end.

In her ruling, Mrs Justice Steyn said it was "likely" that Mrs Vardy's agent at the time, Caroline Watt, "undertook the direct act" of passing the information to The Sun.

But she added: "Nonetheless, the evidence ... clearly shows, in my view, that Mrs Vardy knew of and condoned this behaviour, actively engaging in it by directing Ms Watt to the private Instagram account, sending her screenshots of Mrs Rooney's posts, drawing attention to items of potential interest to the press, and answering additional queries raised by the press via Ms Watt.

The judge added: "In my judgment, the conclusions that I have reached as to the extent to which the claimant engaged in disclosing to The Sun information to which she only had access as a permitted follower of an Instagram account which she knew, and Mrs Rooney repeatedly asserted, was private, suffice to show the single meaning is substantially true."

Mrs Justice Steyn said that Rebekah Vardy had faced "vile abuse" from members of the public following Coleen Rooney's post.

She said: "Some members of the public have responded to the reveal post by subjecting Mrs Vardy to vile abuse, including messages wishing her, her family, and even her then-unborn baby, ill in the most awful terms.

"Nothing of which Mrs Vardy has been accused, nor any of the findings in this judgment, provide any justification or excuse for subjecting her or her family, or any other person involved in this case, to such vitriol."

Mrs Justice Steyn has found that Rebekah Vardy's evidence in the trial was "manifestly inconsistent" with other evidence on "many occasions".

In her judgment, she said: "It was evident that Mrs Vardy found the process of giving evidence stressful and, at times, distressing. I bear in mind when assessing her evidence the degree of stress she was naturally feeling, given the high-profile nature of the trial, the abuse that she has suffered since the reveal post was published, and the length of time she was in the witness box."

Coleen Rooney and Wayne

Coleen Rooney and Wayne© PA

The judge added: "Nevertheless, I find that it is, unfortunately, necessary to treat Mrs Vardy's evidence with very considerable caution.

"There were many occasions when her evidence was manifestly inconsistent with the contemporaneous documentary evidence, e.g. in relation to the World Cup 2018 and the photoshopped pictures, and others where she was evasive."

Mrs Justice Steyn continued: "Mrs Vardy was generally unwilling to make factual concessions, however implausible her evidence.

"This inevitably affects my overall view of her credibility, although I have borne in mind that untruthful evidence may be given to mask guilt or to fortify innocence."

Mrs Justice Steyn also said there was "a degree of self-deception" on Rebekah Vardy's part about her role in disclosing information.

She said: "Although significant parts of Mrs Vardy's evidence were not credible, my assessment is that she is genuinely offended by the accusation made against her by Mrs (Coleen) Rooney in the reveal post.

"However, that is not because she was not involved in disclosing information from the private Instagram account: I have found that she was.

"Rather, her indignation at the accusation flows, in my judgment, from a combination of factors.

"Mrs Vardy's part in disclosing information to The Sun was, it seems to me, unthinking rather than part of a considered and concerted business practice.

Rebekah Vardy and her husband Jamie

Rebekah Vardy and her husband Jamie© PA

"Consequently, there has been a degree of self-deception on her part regarding the extent to which she was involved, as well as a degree of justified resentment at the exaggerated way in which her role has at times been presented during the litigation."

Mrs Justice Steyn said that Rebekah Vardy chose not to call her agent Caroline Watt to give evidence partly because she knew her evidence "would be shown to be untrue".

Ms Watt had been due to give evidence in support of Mrs Vardy, however, she withdrew her evidence pre-trial, with the court told it was due to health concerns.

The judge said: "I accept that her health has been adversely affected by these proceedings. In part, no doubt, that is because she is not someone who has previously been, or ever sought to be, in the public eye, and being a key witness in a trial of this nature would have been uncomfortable even if she had nothing to hide.

"However, I am compelled to the conclusion that the primary reason Ms Watt was so very reluctant to give evidence, and has suffered adversely from the pressure to do so, was that she knew that to a large extent the evidence in her statements was untrue.

"In my view, the claimant's decision not to seek to call Ms Watt, against her will, was motivated, to a substantial degree, by concern for her friend's welfare.

Coleen Rooney

Coleen Rooney© PA

"But in the circumstances, I also draw the inference that Mrs Vardy chose not to call Ms Watt because she knew that when tested in cross-examination her evidence would be shown to be untrue, and that it would have been highly likely to have undermined the claimant's case that she had no involvement in disclosing information from the private Instagram account."

In a viral social media post in October 2019, Mrs Rooney, 36, said she had carried out a “sting operation” and accused Mrs Vardy, 40, of leaking “false stories” about her private life to the press.

Rebekah Vardy

Rebekah Vardy© PA

The wife of former England star Wayne Rooney publicly claimed Mrs Vardy’s account was the source behind three fake stories she had posted on her private Instagram account.

Mrs Vardy, who is married to Leicester striker Jamie Vardy, denied leaking the stories and sued her fellow footballer’s wife for libel, while Mrs Rooney defended the claim on the basis her post was “substantially true”.

Over seven days in courtroom number 13 at the Royal Courts of Justice, the two footballers’ wives each gave evidence as revelations from the case made daily headlines across the British press.


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