Rebekah Vardy cries in witness box during second day of evidence in libel trial
'I have never been paid for private information about anybody apart from myself or my family'
Rebekah Vardy was briefly moved to tears in the witness box during her second day of evidence at the High Court, in which she defended messages sent between her and her agent.
The mother-of-five faced around five hours of questioning on Wednesday, as the trial in the libel dispute between her and fellow footballer’s wife Coleen Rooney continued.
Mrs Vardy, whose evidence was repeatedly challenged by Mrs Rooney’s barrister David Sherborne, rejected a suggestion she was building a relationship with The Sun newspaper for numerous exclusives.
She also denied that photos of her and Mrs Rooney together at a Euro 2016 match were a “set up”.
Mrs Vardy, who was watched throughout by Mrs Rooney who sat metres away in the courtroom, at one point grew tearful at the start of a question about some of the abuse she and her family have received.
In a viral social media post in October 2019, Coleen 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.
Mrs Vardy, who is married to Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy, denies leaking stories to the media and is suing her fellow footballer’s wife for libel, while Mrs Rooney is defending the claim on the basis her post was “substantially true”.
Earlier on Wednesday, Mrs Vardy denied being prepared “to lie under oath” when she said conversations with her agent about leaking information and receiving payment were “never serious”.
Mrs Vardy claimed she had no knowledge of agent Caroline Watt “monitoring” Coleen Rooney’s Instagram account.
“She’s never said once that she was stalking her account,” Mrs Vardy said.
She later added: “I didn’t know she was intentionally going through people’s Instagram to check… information.”
Mrs Vardy also said the pair were “gossiping” or she was “just joking” when questioned about messages between them allegedly about leaking information on a cheating footballer in 2019 and former Leicester City player Riyad Mahrez missing training in 2018.
A message sent by Mrs Vardy to Ms Watt in 2019 labelling someone a “nasty bitch” “definitely wasn’t about Coleen,” Mrs Vardy told the court, adding that she thought it referred to model Danielle Lloyd.
In her written evidence, Mrs Vardy has denied leaking stories about Ms Lloyd.
At one point in Wednesday’s hearing, Mr Sherborne referred to an article in The Sun from 2017 that showed Mrs Vardy in black lingerie “posing in a bed with a huge snake”.
As he turned to the article in one of the dozens of folders used in the trial, he warned “all those here who have a snake phobia” not to turn the page.
Mrs Vardy was earlier questioned by Mr Sherborne about what he suggested were inconsistencies between her evidence in court and her witness statement.
In her written statement, Mrs Vardy said: “I have sometimes been caught up in the heat of the moment during conversations with Caroline where I have talked about ‘leaks’ and payment, but these conversations were never serious, and Caroline would have understood that.
“I have never been paid for private information about anybody apart from myself or my family.”
The court earlier heard Mrs Vardy told her agent she “wanted paying” for information about then-Chelsea player Danny Drinkwater leaving police custody after crashing his car in 2019.
Drinkwater was banned from the roads for 20 months and ordered to do 70 hours of community service after pleading guilty to drink driving.
Mr Sherborne asked Mrs Vardy whether she still stood by witness statement evidence, to which she replied: “Yes, apart from the Danny Drinkwater one.”
Mr Sherborne said: “So, there’s an exception.”
The barrister said: “I put it to you that when you say in that witness statement that these conversations were never serious and Caroline would have understood that, that’s completely untrue isn’t it?”
“No, it’s not,” she replied.
He continued: “What this shows, Mrs Vardy, is that you are prepared to lie under oath.”
She replied: “No.”
She earlier told the court: “When I said I want paying for this, it’s a fleeting comment and something I probably considered at the time, but that was it.”
Mrs Vardy also denied a suggestion that it was “standard practice” for her to leak private information to The Sun newspaper via Ms Watt.
Mrs Rooney is defending the libel claim on the basis of truth and public interest.
The court previously heard that both women have spent “hundreds of thousands of pounds” on the case so far, with the total costs of the case expected to be at least £2 million.
The fake stories Mrs Rooney planted on her Instagram during the sting operation featured her travelling to Mexico for a “gender selection” procedure, her planning to return to TV, and the basement flooding at her home.
In the post on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, she 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.”
Wednesday’s hearing finished early due to a continuing interruption from an alarm in the Royal Courts of Justice, with Mrs Vardy expected to continue giving evidence on Thursday.
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