Wagatha Christie clash continues as Rebekah Vardy accused of racking up 'unreasonable' £320k legal bills

29 May 2024, 14:16

Coleen Rooney has accused Rebekah Vardy of running up an "unreasonable" legal bill
Coleen Rooney has accused Rebekah Vardy of running up an "unreasonable" legal bill. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Rebekah Vardy has been accused of racking up "unreasonable and disproportionate" legal bills during the Wagatha Christie case.

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Rebekah, who is the wife of footballer Jamie Vardy, lost her high-profile libel claim against Coleen Rooney, 38, in July 2022.

It was ruled that her viral social media post accusing Rebekah of leaking private information to the press was "substantially true".

In an order from October the same year, the judge ruled that Rebekah should pay 90% of Coleen's costs, with an initial £800,000 then ordered to be paid.

But the case returned to court on Tuesday, more than two years after the trial, for a hearing over some of Rebekah's pre-trial costs which Coleen is set to pay.

Her lawyers are challenging parts of a bill of around £325,000, of which 20% will have to be paid by Coleen, who is the wife of former footballer Wayne Rooney.

Read more: Rebekah Vardy breaks silence after fresh 'Wagatha Christie' claims made in Coleen Rooney documentary

Read more: Wayne Rooney was so obsessed with the Wagatha Christie trial he considered training to become a lawyer

Rebekah Vardy leaves court on final day of Wagatha trial

Coleen's costs are expected to be considered at a hearing in October and neither woman appeared at the High Court for the first hearing.

Robin Dunne, for Coleen, said that Rebekah's team had racked up "unreasonable and disproportionate" costs before the trial.

Some of the costs related to bids made at a hearing in February 2022 for further documents and information from both sides, as well as Coleen's bid to have legal action against Rebekah's former agent heard alongside the libel claim.

Coleen's lawyers previously claimed that Rebekah leaked information to the Sun either directly or through her agent Caroline Watt "acting on her instruction or with her knowing approval".

Her bid was denied, with Ms Watt's legal bill of £65,000 previously paid by Coleen.

Mr Dunne said they were "significant applications", adding that "we fully accept there needed to be work done", but that Rebekah's bill for around eight weeks worth of work was "disproportionate".

Her lawyers are opposing the bid to reduce the costs bill.

Coleen Rooney arrives at the High Court for the start of the ‘Wagatha Christie’ libel dispute

Jamie Carpenter KC, for Rebekah, said there was "barely a day" when her lawyers were not working at that time.

The specialist costs court in London heard that her trial barrister, Hugh Tomlinson KC, had "worked on the case on Christmas Day while he was on holiday".

Mr Carpenter said that many of the lawyers worked on the case on Boxing Day and the bank holidays around Christmas.

He continued: "No one was costs building. This was work that absolutely had to be done and it was a huge amount of work."

The hearing before Senior Costs Judge Andrew Gordon-Saker is due to conclude on Wednesday.

Following the high-profile trial, Mrs Justice Steyn ruled in Coleen's favour, finding it was "likely" that Ms Watt had passed information to the Sun and that she "knew of and condoned this behaviour".

The judge added that Rebekah had "actively" engaged, "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".

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