Rebekah Vardy 'appears to accept' her team leaked Coleen Rooney stories
Ms Rooney accused Ms Vardy of leaking 'false stories' about her private life to the media in October 2019
Rebekah Vardy “appears to accept” that her PR was the source of leaked stories about Coleen Rooney, Mrs Rooney’s barrister has claimed at the High Court.
Mrs Rooney accused Mrs Vardy of leaking “false stories” about her private life to the media in October 2019 after carrying out a month's-long “sting operation”.
The wife of former England star Wayne Rooney was dubbed “Wagatha Christie” when she publicly claimed her fellow footballer’s wife shared fake stories she had posted on her personal Instagram account with the newspaper.
Ms Vardy denies the accusations and is suing Mrs Rooney for libel.
Ms Rooney’s lawyers previously claimed that Ms Vardy had leaked information either directly to the Sun or through her agent Caroline Watt “acting on her instruction or with her knowing approval”.
On Friday, David Sherborne, for Ms Rooney, claimed that Ms Vardy believes Ms Watt may have been the source of the stories in a new witness statement provided on Wednesday.
In written submissions, Mr Sherborne said that Ms Vardy’s new statement “suggests Ms Watt was the source of the leak but claims that (Ms Vardy) ‘did not authorise or condone her'”.
“It now appears…that she too ‘believes’ that Ms Watt is the source,” Mr Sherborne added.
The barrister continued: “The collapse of Ms Vardy’s case over the last day has been remarkable.
“As of the evening of April 27 2022, in an abrupt change of position to her pleaded case since the outset, Ms Vardy appears now to accept Mrs Rooney’s case: that Caroline Watt, Ms Vardy’s close friend and PR, was the conduit by which stories from the defendant’s private Instagram account were leaked to The Sun through her access via Rebekah Vardy’s account.”
Mr Sherborne told the court: “It has become undeniably obvious that Ms Watt is the source and Ms Vardy, true to form says ‘it wasn’t me, I didn’t realise and I didn’t know anything about what was going on’.”
But Hugh Tomlinson QC, representing Ms Vardy, told the court that his client’s new witness statement did not contain “any change whatever in the pleaded case”.
He later added: “Mr Sherborne may think that this is an evil conspiracy to deceive his client and the court.
“We simply don’t know what the true position is in relation to Ms Watt.
“She’s not communicating with anybody.
“She’s not communicating with anybody on our side and we don’t know what her position is.”
In his written arguments, Mr Tomlinson said there had “been important developments that have occurred” since Ms Vardy gave her first written statement, but did not explain what they were.
He continued: “These are all matters that are relevant to the proceedings and the issues that the court will need to determine.
“It is appropriate for the court and the defendant to have the claimant’s evidence on these new developments in a further witness statement so that the claimant’s position is made clear.
“These developments are very recent.
“They were completely unexpected and outside the claimant’s control…it has taken her time to process and consider the new information.”
Ms Watt was referred to at an earlier hearing after the High Court heard that WhatsApp messages between Ms Vardy and Ms Watt had been disclosed.
Texts heard in court included Ms Vardy referring to someone, whose identity is disputed, as a “nasty b****”.
Ms Watt had been expected to give evidence at the upcoming trial, but the High Court was told she was “not fit” to give oral evidence at a hearing earlier this month.
Friday’s hearing will include bids from Ms Rooney’s lawyers for information from News Group Newspapers, the publisher of The Sun newspaper.
Mr Tomlinson said that Ms Vardy supported this request “in part”, adding: “We have nothing to hide.”
The hearing is due to finish on Friday afternoon, with a judgment expected at a later date.