High Court rules on latest stage of ‘Wagatha Christie’ libel battle

A High Court judge has given a ruling on the latest stage of a libel battle between Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney.

14 February 2022

Coleen Rooney has been refused permission to bring a High Court claim against Rebekah Vardy’s agent as part of an ongoing legal battle between the footballers’ wives over an online post.

In an October 2019 Twitter post, Mrs Rooney, 35, accused Mrs Vardy, 39, of leaking stories about her private life after a months-long “sting operation”.

The wife of former England star Wayne Rooney, dubbed “Wagatha Christie”, claimed Mrs Vardy had shared fake stories she posted on her personal Instagram account with The Sun newspaper.

Mrs Vardy, who is married to Leicester City striker Jamie, denies the accusations and is suing Mrs Rooney for libel.

Rebekah Vardy libel proceedings
Rebekah Vardy denies the accusations and is suing Mrs Rooney for libel (Joe Giddens/PA)

Mrs Rooney’s lawyers previously claimed that Mrs Vardy had leaked information to The Sun either directly or through her agent Caroline Watt “acting on her instruction or with her knowing approval”.

Mrs Rooney asked for permission to bring an “additional claim” against Ms Watt for misuse of private information and wanted it to be heard alongside the libel case.

Her barrister David Sherborne told the court last week that if Mrs Vardy wins her claim on the basis that she was not the person who leaked the information, then Mrs Rooney will be left without “vindication” unless she is able to bring the claim against Ms Watt as part of the same case.

Mrs Vardy’s lawyers opposed the application to add the claim against Ms Watt to the libel case.

In a ruling on Monday, following a two-day hearing last week, Mrs Justice Steyn refused permission for the additional claim against Ms Watt and refused permission for it to be heard alongside the libel trial.

However, the judge gave the go-ahead for Mrs Rooney to amend her defence case, to include an allegation that Ms Vardy, through Ms Watt, provided information to The Sun about an unnamed professional footballer.

She also gave permission for disclosure of WhatsApp messages between Mrs Vardy and Ms Watt during the relevant period, and allowed Mrs Rooney’s application for an order that both parties make a joint request for information to Instagram.

She refused other disclosure applications made by both Mrs Rooney and Mrs Vardy.

The trial of the libel claim is due to take place in May, but may be delayed.

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