London: Coleen Rooney, the wife of former England football captain Wayne, has defeated Rebekah Vardy, the spouse of one of his ex-teammates, Jamie, in their high-profile libel battle.
Vardy had sued Rooney over an accusation she had leaked details of Rooney’s private life to the press. The case came after Rooney had staged an elaborate sting operation to find out who was passing on stories about her private life to The Sun tabloid.
Justice Karen Steyn said in her ruling on Friday that Rooney had successfully proved her allegation was substantially true.
She said the court had concluded that Vardy knew and condoned details being leaked to The Sun by her agent, Caroline Watt.
The legal feud has been dubbed the “Wagatha Christie” case, a reference to the “WAG” moniker given to the glamorous group of footballers’ wives and girlfriends, and to the renowned author of detective novels, in honour of Rooney’s amateur sleuthing.
Their courtroom bust-up has attracted a similar level of fascination and media attention to any of their husbands’ on-field exploits.
Wayne Rooney holds the record for the most international goals for his country, while Jamie Vardy – one of the top scorers in the English Premier League in recent years – is also a former England international.
Both women are well-known figures in their own right – Coleen Rooney has 1.2 million followers on Twitter and almost 925,000 on Instagram. The libel case has lifted the lid on the glittering and less flattering aspects of the lives of rich and famous footballers and their families.
The intrigue began almost three years ago when Rooney became suspicious about stories appearing in The Sun involving information she had put on her personal Instagram account. She turned detective to find out who the culprit was.
She said she blocked everyone from viewing her account except one person and then posted a series of false stories to see whether they leaked out, which she said they had.
Rooney wrote on her social media accounts that only one person had viewed the false stories, concluding with the dramatic revelation: “It’s … Rebekah Vardy’s account.”
“I didn’t leak anything,” Vardy told the High Court in London during hearings in May.
Vardy, who says the result of Rooney’s public outing was that she and her family had received abuse and threats, has accepted that Watt might be responsible for the leaks, but denies instructing her to leak the information.
The court was shown message exchanges she had with Watt, which included some derogatory remarks about Rooney, while Rooney’s lawyer says Vardy deleted other media files and WhatsApp messages.
Meanwhile, Watt’s phone ended up at the bottom of the North Sea after she accidentally dropped it over the side of a boat.
“Like any good detective story, you never find the person responsible standing over the body with the smoking gun in her hand,” David Sherborne, Rooney’s lawyer, told the court.