Wagatha Christie: Rebekah Vardy says she's not a 'leaker' as she takes stand in Coleen Rooney case

Correspondent Martha Fairlie has the main take-aways from Tuesday's hearing

Rebekah Vardy has repeatedly denied leaking information to newspapers about her fellow footballer's wife Coleen Rooney and her friends and family, as she gave evidence during the libel claim at the High Court.

Under questioning from Ms Rooney’s lawyer David Sherborne, Ms Vardy agreed with his proposition that it was “wrong” and “upsetting” for someone to secretly pass on another person’s information that they didn’t want shared.

Ms Vardy later added: “I didn’t leak anything to anyone.”

Earlier, Ms Vardy’s barrister, Hugh Tomlinson QC, said his client had to bring the libel claim to “vindicate her reputation” as the high-profile libel battle got underway after months of preliminary hearings.

The full trial is due to last seven days, during which Ms Rooney, her football manager husband Wayne, his cousin and Ms Rooney’s brother, will also give evidence.

Coleen Rooney, wearing a leg brace and accompanied by her husband Wayne, and Rebekah Vardy arrive at court

Ms Rooney’s barrister Mr Sherborne said the case was “essentially about betrayal”, adding his client was defending the claim on truth and public interest grounds.

Ms Rooney accused Ms Vardy of leaking “false stories” about her private life to the media in October 2019, after she said she carried out a months-long “sting operation”.

The wife of former England star Wayne Rooney was dubbed “Wagatha Christie” after publicly claiming Ms Vardy had shared three fake stories, which she posted on her personal Instagram account, with the Sun.

Ms Vardy's barrister Mr Tomlinson said the accusation and the subsequent trial had "been profoundly distressing and disturbing" for his client who had received substantial abuse, including threats to her unborn baby, as a result of the "false" claim she leaked information to the Sun.

Mr Tomlinson told the court that, as a result of the post, Ms Vardy, who was seven months pregnant at the time, and her family were subjected to horrible abuse, including one post calling her an “evil rat-faced b****” and others saying she should die and her baby should be “put in an incinerator”.

Ms Vardy knew Coleen Rooney was “posting fake stories” to see if they would be leaked to the media, he said.

Coleen and Wayne Rooney at the High Court. Credit: PA

In written submissions, Ms Vardy's barrister Hugh Tomlinson QC said: “Ms Rooney did not have the ‘irrefutable’ evidence that she claimed to have had: her so-called ‘careful investigation’ was nothing of the sort."Mr Tomlinson said: “Ms Vardy made strenuous but unsuccessful attempts to settle the case but the post was not taken down.

“As result, Ms Vardy had no choice but to bring this libel action to establish her innocence and vindicate her reputation.”

He dismissed the idea his client had been “destroying evidence".

"There is no such campaign of deletion. The reason there is no such evidence against Ms Vardy is because she didn’t do it,” Mr Tomlinson said. 

Acting for Ms Rooney, Mr Sherborne claimed there were “only two real suspects” over the leaking of Ms Rooney’s private information: Rebekah Vardy and her agent Caroline Watt.

He described what he called a series of “most improbable events” that had affected the disclosure of evidence in the case from Ms Vardy and those around her.

This included Ms Watt’s phone falling into the North Sea “within days” of the court ordering that, even though she was not a party to proceedings, it should be searched for disclosure.

The planted stories included Ms Rooney, 36, travelling to Mexico for a “gender selection” procedure, her planning to return to TV, and the basement flooding at her home.

In a now-infamous post on Twitter and Instagram, Ms Rooney wrote: “I have saved and screenshotted all the original stories which clearly show just one person has viewed them.

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“It’s ………. Rebekah Vardy’s account.”

Under English defamation law, Ms Rooney must prove her post was “substantially true”.

Shortly after questioning whether Ms Vardy respected people’s privacy, Ms Rooney’s barrister Mr Sherborne then asked Ms Vardy about an interview she gave her about a sexual encounter with singer Peter Andre.

Mr Sherborne showed what appeared to be a A3 printout of the article to Ms Vardy in the witness box before reading the headline which focused on the size of Mr Andre's genitals.

However, Ms Vardy said that she was “forced into a situation by my ex-husband” to do the interview.

Mr Sherborne later asked: “Did you feel particularly strongly about the size of his manhood that it should be made public?”

Ms Vardy replied: “It was something that I was forced to say.”

The full trial follows months of preliminary hearings – none of which have been attended by either Ms Vardy or Ms Rooney.

The case had its first court hearing in November 2020, with a judge finding that Ms Rooney’s post “clearly identified” Ms Vardy as being “guilty of the serious and consistent breach of trust”.

The trial before Ms Justice Steyn continues, with a decision expected in writing at a later date.