Rebekah Vardy appeared to accept that her agent leaked information from Coleen Rooney’s private Instagram account to a newspaper, but denied it was “new” information, as she continued to give evidence at the High Court in London.
During her third day in the witness box as part of her high-profile libel claim against Mrs Rooney, Mrs Vardy, 40, also told the court she did not reply to her agent Caroline Watt when she allegedly admitted leaking stories to The Sun in a WhatsApp chat.
Mrs Vardy said she was bathing her children at the time, and that her next message to Ms Watt was about “Gemma Collins faceplanting” on the television show Dancing On Ice.
On Thursday, Mrs Vardy entered the witness box for the third time on what is expected to be the final day of her evidence in what has been dubbed the “Wagatha Christie” case.
In a viral social media post in October 2019, Mrs Rooney, 36, said she had carried out a “sting operation” and accused Mrs Vardy, 40, of leaking “false stories” about her private life to the press.
Mrs Vardy, who is married to Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy, denies leaking stories to the media and is suing her fellow footballer’s wife for libel, while Mrs Rooney is defending the claim on the basis her post was “substantially true”.
On Thursday, the court heard one of the articles in the case concerned Mrs Rooney’s car being damaged in early 2019, with a picture of the damaged Honda being posted on her private Instagram account.
A story was published in The Sun about Mrs Rooney’s car three days later, written by journalist Andy Halls.
Mrs Rooney’s barrister, David Sherborne, read out texts between Mrs Vardy and Ms Watt, where the agent told the TV personality: “I would have tried to have done a story on Coleen but the evidence has been deleted.”
The court was told Ms Watt continued: “Halls is trying to do a story on Coleen crashing her car but her PR won’t even reply. I’ve told him I’m 100% confident that it happened but don’t know how.”
Questioning Mrs Vardy, Mr Sherborne said: “You didn’t object at any stage to the fact that Ms Watt is plainly passing on information from Mrs Rooney’s private Instagram account to Andy Halls.”
Mrs Vardy said The Sun already had the information, adding: “I didn’t think she was passing on any new information.”
Mr Sherborne asked: “Take the word new out of it. Did you or did you not know that Ms Watt was passing on information from Mrs Rooney’s private account?”
Mrs Vardy replied: “She was talking to Mr Halls about information that was already being discussed.”
“There is a reason you are avoiding my question, Ms Vardy,” Mr Sherborne said, later adding: “That’s your line and you’re sticking to it.”
Mr Sherborne later drew Mrs Vardy’s attention to a post Mrs Rooney shared in January 2019, where she said one of her followers on her private profile was “selling stories again to this scum of a paper”.
Mrs Rooney thanked people for sending messages to ask if she was OK, adding: “The car crash story was completely wrong.”
Mr Sherborne said that was “the bit that you confirmed to The Sun, that Mr Halls took on trust before he wrote the article, was untrue, that’s correct isn’t it?”.
Mrs Vardy replied: “I think I said she crashed her car.”
Mrs Rooney later posted a public tweet saying it was “sad” someone who followed her was “betraying” her.
While discussing this tweet in a private WhatsApp conversation, Ms Watt told Mrs Vardy “It wasn’t someone she trusted. It was me”, in a message accompanied by a laughing face emoji.
The barrister put it to Mrs Vardy that was Ms Watt admitting leaking the information to the journalist.
She replied: “That seems to be what she is saying, but I’m just looking at the times, at 18:47 I’m bathing the children, there is no response from me.”
Mr Sherborne accused Mrs Vardy of trying to throw herself a “lifeline” and asked why, after bathing her children, she didn’t respond to Ms Watt to challenge what she had said, if she didn’t know about and authorise the leak.
Mrs Vardy replied: “Without wanting to make fun of anyone, Gemma Collins faceplanting on the ice was the next message, and that’s what I had on while I was bathing my children.”
The court was also reminded that Ms Watt’s phone had fallen into the North Sea following a preliminary hearing, when Mr Sherborne said that messages between Ms Watt and a journalist from The Sun are “lying at the bottom of the sea in Davy Jones’ locker”.
Mrs Vardy replied: “Who is Davy Jones?”
“It means at the bottom of the sea,” Mrs Justice Steyn said.
Mrs Rooney is defending the libel claim brought by Mrs Vardy on the basis of truth and public interest.
The court previously heard that both women have spent “hundreds of thousands of pounds” on the case so far, with the total costs of the case expected to be at least £2 million.
The libel battle comes after Mrs Rooney publicly claimed an account behind three fake stories she had posted on her personal Instagram account with The Sun newspaper was Mrs Vardy’s.
The fake stories Mrs Rooney planted on her Instagram during the sting operation featured her travelling to Mexico for a “gender selection” procedure, her planning to return to TV, and the basement flooding at her home.
In the post on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, she wrote: “I have saved and screenshotted all the original stories which clearly show just one person has viewed them.
“It’s ………. Rebekah Vardy’s account.”
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