Rebekah Vardy has lost the ‘Wagatha Christie’ High Court libel battle she brought against Coleen Rooney over a viral social media post.
The two-week trial which was held in May, came two years after Vardy sued Rooney for defamation.
Rooney had previously accused Vardy of leaking stories from her private Instagram story to The Sun newspaper – a claim which Vardy denied.
In her ruling on Friday, Mrs Justice Steyn said it was “likely” that Mrs Vardy’s agent at the time, Caroline Watt, “undertook the direct act” of passing the information to The Sun.
But she added: “Nonetheless, the evidence … clearly shows, in my view, that Mrs Vardy knew of and condoned this behaviour, actively engaging in it by 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.
The judge added: “In my judgment, the conclusions that I have reached as to the extent to which the claimant engaged in disclosing to The Sun information to which she only had access as a permitted follower of an Instagram account which she knew, and Mrs Rooney repeatedly asserted, was private, suffice to show the single meaning is substantially true.”
Rooney had created a series of fake stories on her ‘close friends’ Instagram account, including ones about a trip to Mexico for a “gender selection” procedure, the basement of her family home flooding, and her return to TV.
She explained that she restricted the number of followers who could access them to just one – Vardy – to see if they would still appear in the press, and they did.
In the conclusion of her investigation, Rooney claimed: “It’s………. Rebekah Vardy’s account.
Reading her written judgement on Friday, Mrs Justice Steyn said that she has found that Rebekah Vardy’s evidence in the trial was “manifestly inconsistent” with other evidence on “many occasions”.
She added: “It was evident that Mrs Vardy found the process of giving evidence stressful and, at times, distressing. I bear in mind when assessing her evidence the degree of stress she was naturally feeling, given the high-profile nature of the trial, the abuse that she has suffered since the reveal post was published, and the length of time she was in the witness box.”
The judge said: “Nevertheless, I find that it is, unfortunately, necessary to treat Mrs Vardy’s evidence with very considerable caution.
“There were many occasions when her evidence was manifestly inconsistent with the contemporaneous documentary evidence, e.g. in relation to the World Cup 2018 and the photoshopped pictures, and others where she was evasive.”
Mrs Justice Steyn continued: “Mrs Vardy was generally unwilling to make factual concessions, however implausible her evidence.
“This inevitably affects my overall view of her credibility, although I have borne in mind that untruthful evidence may be given to mask guilt or to fortify innocence.”
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