Rebekah Vardy is 'highly unreliable witness' says Coleen Rooney's lawyer

By Paul Glynn
BBC News at the High Court

  • Published
Rebecca VardyImage source, PA
Image caption,
Rebekah Vardy arriving for the final day at court

Rebekah Vardy is a "highly unreliable witness", Coleen Rooney's lawyer has told the High Court on the final day of the libel trial.

David Sherborne, representing Mrs Rooney, told the court Mrs Vardy lied under oath and deleted evidence.

Mrs Vardy walked out of the court during Mr Sherborne's comments.

She is suing Mrs Rooney for libel for alleging in an online post that she had leaked private stories about her to the Sun, which Mrs Vardy denies.

Image source, Julia Quenzler
Image caption,
Mrs Rooney's barrister David Sherborne set out his closing argument on Thursday morning

He said Mrs Vardy had given "implausible, throwaway explanations" and was "lacking in candour."

"We say Mrs Vardy was a highly unreliable witness and her evidence should be treated with caution," he continued.

Mr Sherborne added that the case was "extraordinary" because of the "tenacity" of Mrs Vardy in "backtracking on her admissions of leaks" and the "documentary evidence that flatly contradicts" her account.

He also spoke about "the extent to which it plainly demonstrates her consistent practice of secretly leaking information to the press".

The lawyer told Mrs Justice Steyn that the loss of "crucial" documents by Mrs Vardy was deliberate, adding: "The only plausible explanation is manual deletion by the claimant herself."

Image source, EPA
Image caption,
Coleen Rooney, pictured with Wayne Rooney outside the court earlier this week, did not attend the last day of the trial

Mrs Rooney and her husband, the ex footballer Wayne, did not attend the court.

Her barrister began by explaining to the judge that they had a "long-standing travel arrangement" with their children booked for Thursday. The trial has over-run by a day and was supposed to have concluded a day earlier.

He passed on their"individual apologies", adding "that they intend no disrespect to the court". The judge, Mrs Justice Steyn, said: "I don't take offence".

'Like Hamlet without Prince of Denmark'

Mr Sherborne then reiterated that his client was defending herself on the basis of truth and public interest.

The court heard last week how WhatsApp messages between Mrs Vardy's agent Caroline Watt and a Sun newspaper journalist had gone missing when her phone fell into the North Sea, but that Ms Watt had not testified due to being deemed not well enough.

Mr Sherborne argued that given the "hand-in-glove" relationship between Ms Watt and Mrs Vardy, having the case take place minus her agent was "like Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark".

Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark, is the main character in Shakespeare's famous tragedy.

Noting how other key individuals, including Sun journalists, had not given evidence, Mr Sherborne added: "Hamlet not just without the prince, but all the rest of the royal court."

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

He said the court "can and should conclude" that the loss of WhatsApp messages, including some lost by Mrs Vardy when uploading them for her solicitor, was "the result of deliberate deletion".

"The loss of documents is substantial in this case," he said.

The "only one conclusion", Mr Sherborne said, was that it "was done to cover up incriminating evidence".

He said Mrs Rooney had not wanted this to come to court, but that she had believed what she posted online to be true at the time and "she believes even more so now that we have got to the end of the case".

Closing arguments

Mr Sherborne, in a written submission to the court ahead of his closing statement, suggested Mrs Vardy cultivated a "false" image as the First Lady of Football.

He also criticised Mrs Vardy's husband Jamie Vardy, a former England teammate of Mr Rooney, for having delivered a statement outside the hearing on Tuesday while proceedings were on going, instead of speaking under oath in the courtroom.

Mrs Vardy had arrived alone at the court and before proceedings began, she spoke angrily to a journalist from The Sun about a story which appeared in it on Friday which said the Vardys were moving to the US after the trial. She was very unhappy and told him it was "cruel and that her eldest was in bits".

Hugh Tomlinson, representing Mrs Vardy, will set out his client's closing argument on Thursday afternoon. She returned to the courtroom after roughly an hour, having left it carrying her laptop, with one of her legal team.

Mrs Vardy's libel action was sparked by 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 information about her life, taken from her private Instagram account, to the Sun newspaper.

She said the fake stories she had posted on her Instagram stories in an effort to find the perpetrator had only been viewed by "Rebekah Vardy's account".

Mrs Vardy has continually denied leaking the stories in question to the press.

The fake stories featured Mrs Rooney travelling to Mexico for a "gender selection" procedure, planning to return to TV and the basement flooding at her home.

Mrs Rooney was called "Wagatha Christie" by many people online as a result of her private investigation. Wag is a term used to describe the wives and girlfriends of footballers, while Agatha Christie was a famous English detective novelist.

The judge will reserve her ruling on the case to a later date.

Read more about the trial: