Vardy appears to accept agent leaked Rooney information to press

By Paul Glynn
BBC News, at the High Court

Published
Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Rebekah Vardy gave evidence on the third day of the trial

Rebekah Vardy has appeared to accept that her agent leaked information from Coleen Rooney's private Instagram account to a newspaper, but denied that it was "new" information.

Mrs Vardy was giving evidence on day three of her High Court libel trial.

Mrs Rooney is being sued after claiming Mrs Vardy leaked private information she obtained on Instagram to the Sun.

Mrs Vardy also denied orchestrating a photograph of footballers' wives and girlfriends at the 2018 World Cup.

Proceedings were halted twice on Thursday afternoon after cross-examination from Mrs Rooney's lawyer David Sherborne brought Mrs Vardy to tears. She was allowed to leave the witness box on both occasions.

Image source, Elizabeth Cook
Image caption,
A court sketch showed Mrs Rooney's barrister David Sherborne (back centre) questioning Mrs Vardy (left)

The court heard Mrs Rooney's car was damaged in early 2019. At the time, Mrs Rooney posted a picture of the damaged Honda on her private Instagram account.

Three days later, a story about Mrs Rooney's car was published in the Sun, written by journalist Andy Halls.

Mrs Rooney's barrister, David Sherborne, read out texts between Mrs Vardy and Caroline Watt, where the agent told the TV personality: "Halls is trying to do a story on Coleen crashing her car but her PR [publicist] 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."

After the story appeared in the Sun, Mrs Rooney posted a public tweet saying it was "sad" someone who followed her on social media 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", accompanied by a crying-with-laughter emoji.

The barrister put it to Mrs Vardy that was her agent admitting leaking the information to the journalist.

Mrs Vardy 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."

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Coleen Rooney, pictured with husband Wayne outside court, will start giving evidence on Friday

Earlier on Thursday, Mrs Vardy, the wife of Leicester City player Jamie, denied orchestrating a photograph of footballers' wives and girlfriends at the 2018 World Cup.

Mr Sherborne repeatedly suggested she was lying about the extent of her relationship with the press.

He pointed to text messages which suggested Mrs Vardy and Miss Watt colluded with the press to set up photographs.

Mr Sherborne accused Mrs Vardy of secretly working with a paparazzi photographer to take a picture of her and her fellow "Wags" (a term to describe the wives and girlfriends of England footballers) at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

In a text exchange, Ms Watt wrote that she had "got a photographer sorted for tomorrow", to which Mrs Vardy replied "OK".

In court, Mrs Vardy accepted she had helped arrange to be photographed as she left her hotel to go to dinner, saying she was "happy" to have her picture taken.

But she denied orchestrating further photographs to be taken later that evening at a restaurant, when she was spending time with a group of the England team's wives and girlfriends.

Mrs Vardy claimed that further messages she sent to Ms Watt when plans changed during the evening were not because she was working with the agent to arrange a "pap shot" of the group as they left the restaurant.

Mr Sherbourne argued that some messages - including one Mrs Vardy sent to Ms Watt saying she had "bought about 10 minutes" - showed that Mrs Vardy had stalled the women at the restaurant in an effort to delay them from posting their own pictures on Instagram.

This, Mr Sherborne suggested, would give the photographer time to file his photos to picture agencies and claim them as his exclusive.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Coleen Rooney (left) and Rebekah Vardy, pictured at a Euro 2016 match in France

Referring to the text about delaying the group for 10 minutes, Mr Sherborne said to Mrs Vardy: "You were terrified you are going to lose your exclusive so you do everything you can to stall them."

"That's not true", said Vardy. She said the messages showed that she was "trying to get her [Ms Watt] off my back so I could put my phone away and enjoy my evening. It had been a crazy couple of days."

The barrister suggested to Mrs Vardy that the other women had been "upset" by the allegedly staged photographs, which Mrs Vardy also denied, saying "no one was upset".

Mr Sherborne added that when the other women present that evening found out about the paparazzi, they arranged to put their own photos on social media in an effort to make sure the photographer could not claim his images were exclusive.

After Mrs Vardy said she "had been drinking" so didn't fully "recall" the exact details of what had happened that day, Mr Sherborne again accused the claimant of "lying" to the court.

He suggested Mrs Vardy had been continually changing her story, which she denied, and later of having "selective amnesia".

Mrs Vardy's witness statements were repeatedly revised ahead of the libel trial, Mr Sherborne noted.

The so-called "Wagatha Christie" trial centres on a viral social media post from October 2019, in which Mrs Rooney said she had carried out a sting operation to find out who had been passing private information about her life to the press.

Mrs Rooney, the wife of former England footballer Wayne, claimed that she had clamped down on her privacy settings so that the only account that could have seen three fake stories she had posted - which later appeared in the Sun - belonged to Mrs Vardy.