Rebekah Vardy’s evidence was labelled ‘manifestly inconsistent… evasive or implausible’
Vardy sued Rooney after being publicly accused of leaking “false stories” to the media in a viral social media post in October 2019, with a trial taking place at the High Court in London in May.
Judge Justice Steyn, issued the verdict Friday, saying that Rooney had succeeded in establishing that the essence of the libel was “substantially true”.
She also found that Rooney’s reveal post was “a matter of public interest” due to “the undesirable practice of information (in the nature of mere gossip) about celebrities’ private lives being disclosed to the press by trusted individuals”.
In her conclusion, Justice Steyn said: “I have found that Ms Vardy was party to the disclosure to The Sun… Ms Vardy knew of and condoned this behaviour, actively engaging in it by directing Ms Watt (Vardy’s agent, Caroline Watt) to the private Instagram account, sending her screenshots of Ms Rooney’s posts, drawing attention to items of potential interest to the press, and answering additional queries raised by the press via Ms Watt.”
Watt was Vardy’s agent and friend, and had been implicated in the leaking of the private posts during evidence heard in court in Mat.
The court praised Rooney’s evidence as “honest and reliable”. Vardy’s evidence: “Manifestly inconsistent… evasive or implausible”.
Regardless of the outcome, the legal costs for each side will be upwards of £1m, the BBC earlier reported.
Even the winner will only recover about 70 per cent of their legal bill, leaving them with around £300,000 still to pay, media lawyer, Jonathan Coad told the publisher. If any damages are awarded, they are only likely to be in the £15,000 to £40,000 range.
In the social media post, Rooney, 36, said she had carried out a “sting operation” and accused Vardy, 40, of leaking “false stories” about her private life.
The wife of former England star Wayne Rooney publicly claimed Vardy’s account was the source behind three fake stories she had posted on her private Instagram account.
Vardy, who is married to Leicester striker Jamie Vardy, denied leaking the stories and sued her fellow footballer’s wife for libel, while Rooney defended the claim on the basis her post was “substantially true”.
This has been a burden in my life for a few years now and finally I have got to the bottom of it…… pic.twitter.com/0YqJAoXuK1
— Coleen Rooney (@ColeenRoo) October 9, 2019
Coleen had reportedly told friends she is “confident” of winning the High Court libel battle.
After the trial concluded in May, a source close to Rooney‘s wife told the Sunday Mirror: “After the trial, Coleen had a cup of tea and packed her bags for holiday, confident she had won.
“She has told friends she will be vindicated and she feels relieved that her truth is out there. This whole saga has been very painful.
“She isn’t counting her chickens as she knows the ultimate decision lies with the judge – but she’s adamant she has told the truth throughout and that justice will prevail.”
But Hugh Tomlinson QC, for Vardy, said Rooney had “failed to produce any evidence” during the trial that Vardy had “regularly and frequently abused her status as a trusted follower” of her private Instagram account by passing on information from it to The Sun.
Tomlinson said the libel battle was a “very simple case” when “one clears away the conspiracy theories”.
He added: “Mrs Vardy’s case is and always has been that she did not leak the information nor did she authorise anyone else to leak.
“She does not know to this day what happened,” Mr Tomlinson said, adding: “She does not know where this information came from.”
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