Rebekah Vardy ‘seems to accept’ that her public relations representative may have been the source of leaked stories that sparked the upcoming ‘Wagatha Christie’ libel trial, Coleen Rooney’s High Court lawyer has claimed.
Rooney accused Vardy of leaking ‘false stories’ about his private life to The Sun newspaper in October 2019, posting his allegations on social media after performing a months-long “sting operation”“.
Vardy, who is married to Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy, denies the allegations and is suing Rooney, the wife of former England star Wayne Rooney, for defamation – with a trial due in May.
Rooney’s lawyers have previously claimed that Vardy, 40, leaked information to The Sun either directly or through his friend and agent Caroline Watt “acting on his instructions or with his conscious approval”.
At a preliminary hearing on Friday, David Sherborne, representing Rooney, 36, claimed Vardy now believed Ms Watt may have been the source of the stories. He made the claim after seeing a new witness statement provided on Wednesday.
Vardy’s new statement “suggests that Ms Watt was the source of the leak, but claims that (Ms Vardy) ‘did not authorize or condone it,'” Mr Sherborne said in written submissions to the court.
“It now appears (…) that she too ‘believes’ Ms Watt is the source,” the lawyer continued, before going on to say that “the collapse of Ms Vardy’s case over the past day was remarkable.”
He said: “Since the evening of April 27, 2022, in a sharp change of position from her case pleaded from the start, Ms Vardy now appears to accept Ms Rooney’s case: that Caroline Watt, the close friend and PR of Ms Vardy, was the conduit through which stories from the accused’s private Instagram account were leaked to The Sun through his access through Rebekah Vardy’s account.”
Mr Sherborne told the court: ‘It has become undeniably clear that Ms Watt is the source and Ms Vardy, true to form, says ‘it wasn’t me, I didn’t know and I didn’t know anything about what happened ‘.”
But Vardy’s solicitor, Hugh Tomlinson QC, told the court that his client’s new witness statement contained “no change in the case being pleaded”.
He later added: “Mr Sherborne may think this is an evil plot to deceive his client and the court.
“We just don’t know what the true position is in relation to Ms. Watt. She’s not communicating with anyone. She’s not communicating with anyone on our side and we don’t know what her position is.”
Initially, Ms Watt was due to testify at the upcoming trial. However, at a hearing earlier in April, the High Court was told she was “unfit” to give oral evidence.
“Important” new developments
Mr Tomlinson said in written arguments that there had been “significant developments that have occurred” since Vardy made his first written statement – but did not explain what they were.
He continued: “These are all procedurally relevant issues and matters for the court to decide.
“It is appropriate that the court and the defendant have the plaintiff’s evidence on these new developments in another witness statement so that the plaintiff’s position is clear.
“These developments are very recent. They were completely unexpected and beyond the Applicant’s control…it took time for her to process and review the new information.”
During Friday’s hearing, Rooney’s lawyers were to bid for information from News Group Newspapers, the publisher of The Sun. Mr Tomlinson said Vardy supported the request “in part”, adding: “We have nothing to hide”.
A judgment on that hearing is expected at a later date, with the full trial expected to begin the week of May 9.
“Wagatha Christie”: background
The row between the two women erupted in October 2019, when Rooney accused Vardy of leaking stories to the press after planting three fake stories about herself on her personal Instagram account, making them secretly visible only on the account. of Vardy.
Rooney’s “sting operation” quickly led to her being nicknamed “Wagatha Christie” on social media.
She alleged that these false stories – about traveling to Mexico to learn more about gender selection, returning to television and flooding the basement of her new home – were shared with The Sun newspaper.
Revealing his allegations on social media at the time, Rooney said: “For the past few years, someone I trusted to follow me on my personal Instagram account has constantly updated The Sun newspaper on my posts and stories. private.
“I have recorded and captured all of the original stories which clearly show that only one person saw them.
“This is the account of ……………. Rebekah Vardy.”
Vardy strenuously denies the allegations.
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