‘It’s……… Rebekah Vardy’s account’. The final line from ex-footballer Wayne Rooney’s wife Coleen’s Instagram expose against fellow WAG Rebekah Vardy brought into spotlight the relationship between sportspeople and their spouses, their relationships with the press and how the law viewed the combustion of all these facets of the celebrity world.
The post by Coleen Rooney in October 2019 has reached the British courts, with Rebekah Vardy – wife of England striker Jamie – taking her former friend to court over libel.
How it all started
For five months, Coleen Rooney was in plotting mode. After numerous leaks of her private Instagram stories were published in the Sun newspaper, she spent those months putting up false stories on her Instagram account with only one account able to view them – Rebekah Vardy’s.
These stories ranged from travelling to Mexico to explore ‘gender selection treatment’ to the family suffering flood damage to their 20-million-pound mansion. All these stories were false and only Vardy’s account could view them, according to the Instagram settings put up by Rooney.
When the stories made their way onto the Sun, Rooney came out with the Instagram post that became a meme and an insight into the world of British celebrities.
Heavily pregnant at the time and in Dubai, Vardy responded the same day saying that she never needed the money or the exposure and that Rooney should have come to her first with the complaint.
She also said that various people over the years have had access to her Instagram account and she had found herself following people she never knew, and that if Rooney would have first called once to clarify, they could have gotten to the bottom of the leaks together.
Later when she was asked whether she had had arguments or any quarrels with Rooney, Vardy responded: “That would be like arguing with a pigeon. You can tell it that you are right and it is wrong, but it’s still going to shit in your hair.”
The libel lawsuit
Vardy then proceeded to sue Rooney for libel, a case which began on June 12, 2020. She claimed that someone else had access to her Instagram account. Her argument was that even if Rooney’s private stories were being viewed only through the Rebekah Vardy Instagram account, it did not mean that she herself was leaking those stories to the Sun.
According to court filings, Vardy’s account could and was accessed by other people. The onus, in British law, was on Rooney to prove that it was Vardy and Vardy alone who leaked those private stories to the press. And her case is not going very well.
How is the case going
At the time, Rooney’s legal representatives said that it was disheartening to see the matter go to court and that the matter be resolved between the two of them. On November 20, 2020, Justice Warby ruled in Vardy’s favour saying that Rooney had directed her statement towards Vardy and her alone. He ordered Rooney to pay her £23,000 in legal costs. The pair were then given till February 8, 2021 to find an out-of-court settlement, which didn’t materialise.
In July, the case returned to the High Court, where presiding judge, Justice Steyn, threw out Rooney’s arguments. The judge stated that Rooney’s claims that Vardy was the alleged author of the paper’s short-lived column Secret Wag were ‘irrelevant’ and ‘peripheral’.
But the judge also agreed that Vardy’s relationship with the Sun was the building block of Rooney’s case against her.
Recently, Vardy’s lawyers tried to invoke the summary judgement. It is a legal step that would see parts of the case resolved without trial – in this case, the specific part being Rooney claiming that Vardy leaked that she was returning to presenting on TV.
But Justice Steyn dismissed the bid for summary judgement. Rooney’s representatives said that they were ‘pleased, but not surprised’ at the judgement.
The saga returned with a two-day hearing in the High Court in February where WhatsApp messages between Vardy and her agent were revealed. The court also heard that Vardy’s agent’s phone was now lost after it fell into the North Sea. This happened a short time after the court had specifically instructed that the contents of the phone be used as evidence.
Now a seven-day trial has begun with both sides testifying to their version of the story. So far, Rooney’s team have accused Vardy of using her PR agent to send leaks to the Sun, deliberately deleting WhatsApp messages and having the ‘means, opportunity and motive’ to leak stories.
Vardy’s team has said that the accusations came at a time when she was heavily pregnant and was jeered at and ridiculed every time she was at a match to support her husband.
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