Coleen Rooney said all of her attempts to avoid a public court case were “knocked back” by Rebekah Vardy following the long-awaited verdict after it was delivered on Friday.
rs Vardy lost her libel case against Mrs Rooney bringing the so-called Wagatha Christie trial to an end.
In her ruling, Mrs Justice Steyn said it was “likely” that Mrs Vardy’s agent at the time, Caroline Watt, “undertook the direct act” of passing the information to The Sun.
But she added: “Nonetheless, the evidence… clearly shows, in my view, that Mrs Vardy knew of and condoned this behaviour, actively engaging in it by directing Ms Watt to the private Instagram account, sending her screenshots of Mrs Rooney’s posts , drawing attention to items of potential interest to the press, and answering additional queries raised by the press via Ms Watt.”
The judge added: “In my judgment, the conclusions that I have reached as to the extent to which the claimant engaged in disclosing to The Sun information to which she only had access as a permitted follower of an Instagram account which she knew, and Mrs Rooney repeatedly asserted, was private, enough to show the single meaning is substantially true.”
In a statement following the verdict, Mrs Rooney said she was “pleased” with the outcome but the case should never have gone to court “at such expense in times of hardship for so many people when the money could have been far better spent helping others “.
“Both before and after my social media posts in October 2019, I made every effort to avoid the need for such a drawn out and public court case,” she continued. “All my attempts to do so were knocked back by Mrs Vardy.
“This left me with no alternative but to go through with the case to defend myself and to end the repeated leaking of my private information to The Sun.
“These leaks from my private Instagram account began in 2017. They continued for almost two years, intruding on my privacy and that of my family.
“Although I bear Mrs Vardy no ill-will, today’s judgment makes clear that I was right in what I said in my posts of October 2019.”
Mrs Rooney also thanked her legal team, family, friends and those who supported her through “this difficult and stressful time”.
Also responding on Friday afternoon, Mrs Vardy said she was “extremely sad and disappointed at the decision”.
“It is not the result that I had expected, nor believe was just. I brought this action to vindicate my reputation and am devastated by the judge’s finding,” Mrs Vardy said.
“The judge accepted that publication of Coleen’s post was not in the ‘public interest’ and she also rejected her claim that I was the ‘Secret Wag’.
“But as for the rest of her judgment, she got it wrong and this is something I cannot accept.”
Mrs Vardy also issued a plea to those who have subjected her to abuse to stop, and indicated she does not intend to appeal against the ruling, saying “the case is over”.
She added: “As I explained in my evidence I, my family and even my unborn baby, were subjected to disgusting messages and vile abuse following Coleen’s Post and these have continued even during the course of the trial.
“Please can the people who have been abusing me and my family now stop. The case is over.
“I want to thank everyone who has supported me.”
Mrs Justice Steyn also found that Mrs Vardy’s evidence in the trial was “manifestly inconsistent” with other evidence on “many occasions”.
In her judgment, she said: “It was evident that Mrs Vardy found the process of giving evidence stressful and, at times, distressing. I bear in mind when assessing her evidence the degree of stress she was naturally feeling, given the high-profile nature of the trial, the abuse that she has suffered since the reveal post was published, and the length of time she was in the witness box.”
The judge added: “Nevertheless, I find that it is, unfortunately, necessary to treat Mrs Vardy’s evidence with very considerable caution.
“There were many occasions when her evidence was manifestly inconsistent with the contemporary documentary evidence, eg in relation to the World Cup 2018 and the photoshopped pictures, and others where she was evasive.”
Mrs Justice Steyn continued: “Mrs Vardy was generally unwilling to make factual concessions, however implausible her evidence.
“This inevitably affects my overall view of her credibility, although I have borne in mind that untruthful evidence may be given to mask guilt or to fortify innocence.”
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.
The wife of former England star Wayne Rooney publicly claimed Mrs Vardy’s account was the source behind three fake stories she had posted on her private Instagram account.
Mrs Vardy, who is married to Leicester striker Jamie Vardy, denied leaking the stories and sued her fellow footballer’s wife for libel, while Mrs Rooney defended the claim on the basis her post was “substantially true”.
Over seven days in courtroom number 13 at the Royal Courts of Justice, the two footballers’ wives each gave evidence as revelations from the case made daily headlines across the British press.