Wagatha Christie: Rebecca Vardy claims partial victory against Coleen Rooney

7 July 2021, 12:55

Rebekah Vardy has suceeded in the latest legal round of Wagatha Christie
Rebekah Vardy has suceeded in the latest legal round of Wagatha Christie. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

Rebekah Vardy has succeeded in having parts of Coleen Rooney's defence in their libel battle thrown out by a High Court judge.

Mrs Justice Steyn dismissed a claim by Mrs Rooney that her fellow footballer's wife showed "publicity seeking behaviour" when sitting behind Mrs Rooney in someone else's seat at the 2016 Euros.

Mrs Justice Steyn found that even assuming the allegation was true, it would still not help Mrs Rooney's case.

She said: "The fact that a person seeks media coverage of their own attendance at a football match does not make it more probable that they would disclose private information about another person to the press."

Read more: Rebekah Vardy wins first stage in 'Wagatha Christie' libel case against Coleen Rooney

However, Mrs Justice Steyn ruled against Mrs Vardy on other parts of Mrs Rooney's defence and denied her bid for summary judgment - a legal step which would see that part of the case resolved without a trial - concerning Mrs Rooney's claim that Mrs Vardy leaked a story to The Sun about her returning to TV presenting.

Mrs Vardy, who is married to Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy, is suing Mrs Rooney for libel after Mrs Rooney, 35, accused her of leaking "false stories" about her private life in October 2019 after carrying out a months-long "sting operation".

Mrs Vardy, who is married to Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy, is suing Mrs Rooney for libel after Mrs Rooney, 35, accused her of leaking "false stories" about her private life
Mrs Vardy, who is married to Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy, is suing Mrs Rooney for libel after Mrs Rooney, 35, accused her of leaking "false stories" about her private life. Picture: PA

The wife of former England star Wayne Rooney publicly claimed her fellow footballer's wife shared fake stories she had posted on her personal Instagram account with the newspaper, earning her the nickname "Wagatha Christie".

In the latest round of the case, Mrs Vardy's lawyers asked the High Court to throw out parts of Mrs Rooney's defence, including allegations of Mrs Vardy's close relationship with The Sun and her alleged but denied authorship of "The Secret Wag" column.

At the hearing in June, Hugh Tomlinson QC argued these were "irrelevant or peripheral" to the case and that the central issue was whether Mrs Vardy was leaking posts from Mrs Rooney's Instagram.

In his written submissions, Mr Tomlinson said most of the claims made by Mrs Rooney's lawyers were in dispute and denied.

He continued: "Even if it were established that the claimant has 'an exceptionally close relationship' with The Sun, that it gave her positive coverage, that she has a history of self-promotion or is the 'Secret Wag', does not mean that it is more likely than not that the claimant had regularly informed The Sun about the defendant's private posts."

(Mrs Rooney pictured) Mrs Vardy has denied any knowledge or authorisation of passing on private information.
(Mrs Rooney pictured) Mrs Vardy has denied any knowledge or authorisation of passing on private information. Picture: PA

Mr Tomlinson later highlighted that both women have a public profile and their own relationships with the media.

He said: "What has happened in this case is that the defendant has gone through the claimant's appearances in the newspapers, put two and two together and made seven."

The move to throw out part of the defence was opposed by Mrs Rooney, with her barrister David Sherborne arguing 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 or financially exploit 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.

He also said that the evidence showed Mrs Vardy was in a "very uneasy position" and said the request to throw it out was a tactical move as it would "undermine her case as well as embarrass her".

Mrs Vardy has denied any knowledge or authorisation of passing on private information.

She also applied for summary judgment - a legal step which would see that part of the case resolved without a trial - in relation to Mrs Rooney's claim that Mrs Vardy leaked a story to The Sun about her returning to TV presenting.

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