ENTERTAINMENT
16/03/2021 13:29 GMT

Rebekah Vardy's £900K Legal Budget Branded 'Grotesque' By Coleen Rooney's Barrister

A judge has called on both Coleen and Rebekah to rethink their "extraordinarily large" budgets.

Coleen Rooney’s barrister has branded Rebekah Vardy’s legal budget of almost £900K “grotesque” at the latest hearing in their ongoing libel case.

In October 2019, Coleenmade headlines across the globe when she claimed Rebekah’s Instagram account was the source of fake stories appearing in The Sun newspaper.

In her now-infamous Twitter post, Coleen wrote: “To try and prove [who was behind the stories being leaked to the press], I came up with an idea. I blocked everyone from viewing my Instagram stories except ONE account (those on my private account must have been wondering why I haven’t had stories on there for a while).

“Over the past five months I have posted a series of false stories to see if they made their way into the Sun newspaper. And you know what, they did!

“Now I know for certain which account/individual it’s come from. I have saved and screenshotted all of the original stories which clearly show just one person has viewed them. It’s… Rebekah Vardy’s account.”

PAUL ELLIS via AFP via Getty Images
Coleen Rooney pictured in 2016

Rebekah, who is married to Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy, has always denied these accusations and is suing Coleen for damages for libel.

At a brief preliminary hearing on Tuesday, Coleen’s legal representative John Samson asked the court to “reject [Rebekah’s] cost budget and ask them to review it because, in the words of my lay client, it is grotesque”.

Coleen’s lawyer also pointed out that Rebekah’s budget to date, which includes incurred costs, is “double that of the defendant”. 

Rebekah’s barrister Sara Mansoori said that the Dancing On Ice star’s overall budget is £897,000, the estimated costs of which are £465,842.

“This compares to Mrs Rooney’s estimated costs in her cost budget of £402,312,” she said, insisting her own client’s £897,000 budget “reflects the complexity, scope and scale of the legal and factual issues”.

David M. Benett via Dave Benett/Getty Images
Rebekah Vardy at the NTAs in 2019

“Mrs Vardy’s cost budget reflects the very serious nature of the highly damaging defamatory allegation made against her – which continues to be published by Mrs Rooney,” she insisted.

“It has caused enormous distress to Mrs Vardy and led to her being targeted by hostile and abusive online messages, as well as causing extreme upset and anxiety to members of her family.

“It was necessary to take steps to seek to understand the allegations made by Mrs Rooney, which involved technical expertise, as well as to seek to resolve the dispute.

“Regrettably this was not possible and further costs have been incurred in pursuing the claim to this stage.”

Judge Roger Eastman said both Rebekah and Coleen’s legal budgets were “extraordinarily large”, giving them both until June to file revised cost budgets.

At the hearing, Rebekah’s legal team also said that they planned to apply for parts of Coleen’s defence to be stricken out, unless they were withdrawn.

Mansoori said Coleen’s written defence includes “a huge number of additional matters”, including allegations that Rebekah has “developed and maintained exceptionally close relationships with a number of journalists over the years, for self-promotion, financial reward or positive news coverage”.

She told the court these allegations were not relevant as they don’t “relate to the defamatory allegations in issue”, and should be removed from the defence.

Jean Catuffe via Getty Images
Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy pictured in the stands of a Euro 2016 game around five years ago

Towards the end of last year, Rebekah won the first stage of the legal battle, with the High Court ruling Coleen’s post “clearly identified [Rebekah]” as being “guilty of the serious and consistent breach of trust that she alleges”.

In his ruling, Mr Justice Warby said Coleen’s message was “a considered post, using wording composed with some care”, adding: “It would be clear to the ordinary reader from the outset that it was meant seriously, and intended to convey a message of some importance.”

He also rejected Coleen’s contention that she was simply referring to Rebekah’s Instagram account, rather than the woman herself.

Coleen was ordered to pay Rebekah just under £23,000 in costs for the hearing in question, which took place in November.

In January, the court heard that both Coleen and Rebekah had agreed for a “stay” of the legal proceedings so there could be “one final attempt to resolve the matter without the need for a full trial”.

The court has now heard that this attempt at mediation took place earlier in the year.