Wagatha Christie: Coleen ordered to pay £65k after failing to bring claim against Vardy agent

14 February 2022, 14:25 | Updated: 14 February 2022, 18:15

Coleen Rooney has been refused permission to bring a High Court claim against Rebekah Vardy's agent.
Coleen Rooney has been refused permission to bring a High Court claim against Rebekah Vardy's agent. Picture: Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

Coleen Rooney has been ordered to pay £65,000 towards the legal costs for Rebekah Vardy's agent after a judge refused permission to bring a High Court claim against her.

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The wife of former England star Wayne Rooney, dubbed "Wagatha Christie", claimed Mrs Vardy had shared fake stories she posted on her personal Instagram account with The Sun newspaper, either directly or through her agent Caroline Watt "acting on her instruction or with her knowing approval".

Mrs Vardy, who is married to Leicester City striker Jamie, denies the accusations and is suing Mrs Rooney for libel.

Mrs Rooney has since had her request to bring a claim against Ms Watt for misuse of private information refused.

Mrs Justice Steyn ordered Mrs Rooney to pay £65,000 towards Ms Watt's legal costs following the unsuccessful bid to join her to the libel case.

The judge said: "It seems to me that is a reasonable and proportionate sum."

She added: "It is fair to say that a considerable period of time would have been needed given the standing-start the respondent had for what is, for the respondent, quite a substantial application."

It comes after Mrs Rooney's barrister, David Sherborne, told the court last week that if Mrs Vardy wins her claim on the basis that she was not the person who leaked the information, then she will be left without "vindication" unless she is able to bring the claim against Ms Watt as part of the same case.

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Colleen Rooney is married to former England footballer Wayne Rooney
Colleen Rooney is married to former England footballer Wayne Rooney. Picture: Alamy

However, Mrs Vardy's lawyers opposed the application to add the claim against Ms Watt to the case, with barrister Hugh Tomlinson QC saying: "If the defendant had genuinely wished to bring a misuse of private information claim against Ms Watt in order to vindicate her rights this claim could have been brought 15 months ago."

The judge did give the go-ahead for Mrs Rooney to amend her defence case on Monday, to include an allegation that Ms Vardy, through Ms Watt, provided information to The Sun about an unnamed professional footballer.

She also gave permission for disclosure of WhatsApp messages between Mrs Vardy and Ms Watt during the relevant period, and allowed Mrs Rooney's application for an order that both parties make a joint request for information to Instagram.

She refused other disclosure applications made by both Mrs Rooney and Mrs Vardy.

The court heard the date for the pre-trial review had not changed and was expected on April 13, with the trial of the libel claim due to take place in May.

At the end of the hearing, Rebekah Vardy's barrister Hugh Tomlinson QC thanked the judge for "battling through Covid to produce a very comprehensive judgment".

Rebekah Vardy and her husband Jamie Vardy.
Rebekah Vardy and her husband Jamie Vardy. Picture: Alamy

Following Monday's ruling, a spokesman for Coleen Rooney said: "Coleen is pleased that today's judgment leaves it open to her to bring separate legal action against Caroline Watt, following the details of telling WhatsApp conversations between her and Mrs Vardy laid before the court last week.

"The judgment does nothing to alter the fact that Ms Watt will be a witness in this case.

"As such, she will be subject to cross examination under oath about her relationship with Mrs Vardy and the media and on the meaning of the WhatsApp messages.

"In the light of this, Coleen and her lawyers look forward to seeing the results of the further extensive searches ordered today by the judge of Mrs Vardy's WhatsApp messages with relevant parties, including the manual search of Mrs Vardy's messages with Caroline Watt.

"In accordance with today's ruling, Instagram will also be formally be asked to assist with disclosure of relevant Instagram data.

"Coleen and her legal team remain confident of winning this case when it comes to trial in May."