Rebecca Vardy has lost her Wagatta Christie case against Colleen Rooney.
Vardy tried to sue his fellow WAG for defamation, but a High Court judge ruled that Rooney’s Instagram post exposing Vardy for leaking stories to The Sun newspaper was true.
Vardy said Judge Justice Steyn was “wrong” with her ruling, adding that “this is not the result I expected, nor do I believe it is fair”.
But she added that she would not appeal as “the case is over”.
Rooney said she was “delighted” the judge ruled in her favor, adding: “This was not a case I ever sought or wanted.”
Alluding to what she called a “difficult and stressful time” during the trial, she concluded: “While I have no ill will towards Ms Vardy, today’s decision makes it clear that I was right in what I said in my posts from October 2019”.
The court found that the gist of Rooney’s social media post was “largely true” – meaning Vardy was responsible for leaking Rooney’s personal information to the press.
In his judgment, Judge Steyn described Vardy’s evidence in the defamation trial as “manifestly inconsistent … evasive or implausible” – while Rooney’s evidence was “honest and reliable”.
In his conclusion, the judge said: “I find that Ms Vardy participated in the disclosure to The Sun… Ms Vardy knew and approved of this conduct, actively participating in it by directing Ms Watt to the private account on Instagram, sending her screenshots of Ms Rooney’s posts, drawing attention to items of potential interest to the press and responding to further inquiries raised by the press through Ms Watt.”
Caroline Watt was Vardy’s agent and friend and was implicated in the leaking of private publications during evidence heard in court. She did not testify during the court hearing.
Although the judge described the information in Rooney’s leaked posts as “trivial,” she said the content “need not be confidential or important to qualify as defamation.”
Despite the court’s finding that Rooney’s revealing post “is a matter of public interest”, the judge ruled it could not be used as part of her defense as she had not taken “steps to present the allegation to Ms Vardy and to give her an opportunity to answer’.
Speaking about what was referred to during the trial as a ‘series of unfortunate incidents’ – which included a broken laptop, forgotten passwords and lost data – Mrs Justice Steyn said: ‘In my judgment it is likely that Ms Vardy willfully deleted her WhatsApp chat with Ms Watt and that Ms Watt had deliberately dropped her phone in the sea”.
The court praised Rooney’s evidence as “honest and reliable” but said Vardy’s evidence was “manifestly inconsistent … evasive or implausible”.
Mrs Justice Steyn said: “Ms Vardy was generally unwilling to make any factual concessions, however implausible her evidence was.”
Although the judge found Vardy had disclosed private information, she said she believed Vardy felt “genuinely offended” by Rooney’s accusation, using “a degree of self-delusion” to minimize his role in the leak.
Former WAG Lizzie Cundy, a friend of Rooney’s, told Sky News she was “not surprised” by the outcome and knew Rooney – who she described as an “honest girl” – would only have made the original revealing post if she was “100 per cent sure she was correct”.
She said that when the row first started, she even suggested to Rooney and Vardy to: “Come and have some prosecco and nuts and sort this out”, adding: “Now Rebecca will be thinking ‘I should have listened'”.
Rooney initially accused Vardy of leak of “fake stories” in the media in 2019and the high-profile trial took place in May.
The wife of former England star Wayne Rooney has been dubbed “Wagatta Christie” after she claimed three fake stories posted on her personal Instagram page – which, unbeknownst to Vardy at the time, were only shared with her account – were passed on to The Sun newspaper.
In written submissions to the court during the trial, Vardy’s barrister Hugh Tomlinson QC argued that while the case had been trivialized as the ‘WAG Wars’ it had had a ‘very profound’ impact on his client’s life leading to ‘abuse of high intensity and slander.”
The 40-year-old suffered “immense stress” as a result of Rooney’s allegations and “had no choice” but to take her to court “to establish her innocence and protect her reputation”, Mr Tomlinson said.
However, in written arguments for Rooney, 36, lawyer David Sherborne said his client felt “absolutely confident” in the investigation she conducted to find the source of the leak and that her “credentialing was so thoroughly as many revisions’.
What were the main legal issues in the case?
Defamation is a published statement that is defamatory – damaging to a person’s reputation.
Vardy said she had suffered “very serious damage to her reputation” as a result of Rooney’s allegations and had taken the case to court to defend herself.
Rooney defended the claim on the grounds that it was true and in the public interest for her to publish it. Under English libel law, it was Rooney who had to prove that her post was “substantially true”.
Because this was a civil case, not a criminal one, the standard of proof was “on the balance of probabilities” or “more likely than not,” not “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
In the UK, there is an upper limit on damages in defamation claims of around £300,000, with the amount awarded depending on a number of factors – including the level of damage to reputation and the prevalence of the published defamation. However, any damages are usually absorbed by legal costs.
At a hearing in March 2022, it was revealed that Vardy has a spending budget of nearly £900,000, while Rooney’s spending is estimated to be around £400,000.
However, the case is believed to have exceeded those budgets.
The Wagatta Christie case: Rebecca Vardy loses defamation trial against Coleen Rooney | Ents & Arts News
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