Coleen Rooney post about Rebekah Vardy clearly identified her as guilty – judge
Coleen Rooney’s post accusing Rebekah Vardy of leaking stories about her private life to the media “clearly identified” her as being “guilty of the serious and consistent breach of trust that she alleges”, the High Court has ruled.
Mrs Rooney, 34, accused Mrs Vardy, 38, of leaking “false stories” about her private life to the media last October after carrying out a months-long “sting operation” which saw her dubbed “Wagatha Christie”.
The wife of former England star Wayne Rooney claimed fellow footballer’s wife Mrs Vardy shared fake stories she had posted on her personal Instagram account with The Sun newspaper.
Mrs Rooney wrote on Instagram and Twitter: “I have saved and screenshotted all the original stories which clearly show just one person has viewed them.
“It’s ……………. Rebekah Vardy’s account.”
Mrs Vardy, who is married to Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy, denies the accusations and is suing Mrs Rooney for damages for libel.
In a judgment on Friday, Mr Justice Warby ruled that the “natural and ordinary” meaning of Mrs Rooney’s posts was that Mrs Vardy had “regularly and frequently abused her status as a trusted follower of Ms Rooney’s personal Instagram account by secretly informing The Sun newspaper of Ms Rooney’s private posts and stories”.
Announcing his decision, the judge said that the meaning he had determined was “substantially the same as the claimant’s meaning”.
In his ruling, Mr Justice Warby said Mrs Rooney’s message was “a considered post, using wording composed with some care”, adding: “It would be clear to the ordinary reader from the outset that it was meant seriously, and intended to convey a message of some importance.”
He also rejected Mrs Rooney’s contention that she simply referred to Mrs Vardy’s Instagram account, rather than Mrs Vardy herself.
The judge ruled: “I certainly do not think that the ordinary reader would take that single word (account), albeit repeated, to indicate that Mrs Rooney remains in doubt about who the wrongdoer was.”
He added: “There is nothing in these words, apart from the word ‘account’, that in any way suggests that the behaviour of which Mrs Rooney is complaining might have been carried out by anyone other than the account holder, Mrs Vardy.”
Mr Justice Warby also ordered Mrs Rooney to pay Mrs Vardy just under £23,000 in costs for Thursday’s hearing.
At that hearing, Mrs Vardy’s barrister Hugh Tomlinson QC said Mrs Rooney’s posts were an “untrue and unjustified defamatory attack” which was “published and republished to millions of people”.
He added: “In fact, she did nothing wrong. Whatever leaks there were did not come from her.”
David Sherborne, representing Mrs Rooney, argued that it was “true” that Mrs Vardy was “responsible for consistently passing on information about the defendant’s private Instagram posts and stories to The Sun”.
He said: “Mrs Rooney intends to defend these words as true in whatever meaning.”
The court also heard both Mrs Vardy and Mrs Rooney had agreed for a “stay” of the proceedings until February, so there could be “one final attempt to resolve the matter without the need for a full trial”.