The two footballers’ wives have been embroiled in a very public feud since October 2019, when Coleen published a now-infamous post on Twitter claiming that Rebekah’s Instagram account was the source of several “false stories” about her being leaked to The Sun.
Rebekah has always maintained her innocence in the matter, and subsequently sued Coleen for libel in what became widely referred to as the “WAGatha Christie” case.
The trial began in May, and lasted for a week, with judge Mrs Justice Steyn sharing her ruling on Friday afternoon.
She ruled that it was “likely” that Rebekah’s then-agent, Caroline Watt, “undertook the direct act” of passing the information to The Sun
However, 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.”
She concluded: “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, suffice to show the single meaning is substantially true.”
Mrs Justice Steyn has found that Rebekah Vardy’s evidence in the trial was “manifestly inconsistent” with other evidence on “many occasions”.
She said: “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.”
The judge also spoke about the “vile abuse” Rebekah had received from members of the public in the wake of Coleen’s initial post, insisting: “Nothing of which Mrs Vardy has been accused, nor any of the findings in this judgment, provide any justification or excuse for subjecting her or her family, or any other person involved in this case, to such vitriol.”
During the seven-day trial, Coleen’s barrister David Sherborne argued that Rebekah had a “habitual and established practice” of leaking information about those she knew – through her friend and former agent Caroline Watt – to The Sun newspaper.
Of Coleen’s viral “reveal” post, her barrister added: “It is what she believed at the time… and it is what she believes even more so now that we have got to the end of the case.”
However, Rebekah’s legal representative Hugh Tomlinson QC insisted that Coleen had “failed to produce any evidence” that his client had “regularly and frequently abused her status as a trusted follower” of her private Instagram account by passing on information from it to The Sun.
He added: “Mrs Vardy’s case is and always has been that she did not leak the information nor did she authorise anyone else to leak.”
“She does not know to this day what happened,” he said. “She does not know where this information came from.”
The barrister also claimed that Rebekah had suffered “very serious harm to her reputation” as a result of Coleen’s initial post.