Rebecca Vardy, wife of Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy (left), is leaving the Royal Courts of Justice after the final day of the high-profile trial dubbed the “Wagatha Christie” case as Rebecca Vardy sues Colin Rooney (right) for defamation after he was publicly accused of leaking private stories To the press on May 19, 2022 in London, England.
Victor Szymanowicz | Publishing in the future | Getty Images
LONDON – The British public’s captivating Wagata Christi trial reached a verdict on Friday, with Rebecca Vardy losing a defamation case against fellow soccer star Colin Rooney.
The UK High Court has ruled against Vardy in Rooney’s favor after a years-long feud between the “Wags” – the wives and girlfriends of footballers – which featured all the twists and turns in one of Agatha Christie’s finest mystery novels.
Judge Justice Stein delivered her written ruling Friday after a scathing and scandalous two-week trial in May.
It comes two years after Vardy sued Rooney for defamation following a row over a series of Instagram posts.
Rooney claimed that the stories from her own Instagram account were leaked by Vardy to reporters at the British tabloid The Sun.
Vardy has vehemently denied the allegations, arguing that the accusations caused her “widespread public abuse,” and she sued Rooney in an attempt to clear her name.
However, in her ruling on Friday, Stein said it was “likely” that Vardy’s then-agent Carolyn Watt “did direct work” passing the information on to The Sun.
“The evidence … clearly shows, in my view, that Ms Vardy was aware of this behavior and condoned it, and actively engaged in it by directing Ms Watt to the private Instagram account, sending screenshots of Ms Rooney’s posts, and drawing attention to items of potential interest to the press and to respond to additional inquiries raised by the press via Ms.
Rooney and Vardy came into the spotlight in the 2000s and 2010s as ‘Wags’ – a term now less used due to its sexual connotations – for former England football captain Wayne Rooney and Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy, respectively.
But the couple, who were friends, rose to personal infamy after public fallout.
Ronnie, who suspected someone had leaked stories from her private Instagram account to the press, began a “sting” in 2019.
She posted a slew of fake stories—including about traveling to Mexico to make a “sex pick” and flooding her basement—and gradually clamped down on her followers to see if the stories would still appear in the press.
In the end, when only one follower remained and stories kept leaking, Ronnie turned to social media to post the conclusions of her findings: “It’s……….. Rebecca Vardy’s account.”
Vardy, who denied the charges, then filed a defamation case against Rooney, saying her reputation had been damaged.
Rooney maintained that her actions were justified in the interest of truth and the public interest.
The case moved into a seven-day trial in May, with Rooney, 36, and Vardy, 40, standing up to share their accounts.
In an emotionally charged hearing, Rooney’s defense provided evidence of Vardy’s apparent disregard for the privacy of others, including her Selling a “Kiss and Tell” Story After one night with fellow celebrity Peter Andre.
Vardy eventually admitted that she had previously tried to leak one story about soccer player Danny Drinkwater, in which she texted her agent, Watt, to say, “I want to pay for it.”
She also appeared to accept that Watt had leaked information from Rooney’s private Instagram account to a newspaper, but denied that it was “new” information.
Watt was deemed unfit to testify during the case. Sun reporters did not provide evidence, either.
Judge Stein said in her ruling on Friday that Vardy had suffered “a degree of self-deception” to the point of her involvement in the leaks to The Sun, adding that there had been “numerous occasions” when Vardy’s evidence was “manifestly inconsistent”.
She also noted that while Vardy may have felt “genuinely offended by the accusation made by Mrs. Rooney in the disclosure leaflet” the accusations of defamation – a type of written defamation – were not substantiated.
On Friday, Rooney said she felt the verdict had acquitted her.
“Of course, I am pleased that the judge found in my favor her ruling today,” she said, according to a statement issued to the Palestinian News Agency.
However, she noted, the trial was a huge expense at a time when many people across the country are facing a worsening cost of living crisis.
“It was not an issue that I sought or wanted at all,” she said. “I never believed he should have gone to court like this in difficult times for so many people, when it would have been so much better to spend money to help others.”
Vardy’s loss means that she will not receive any compensation, but Ronnie is entitled to claim the costs.
However, any compensation Rooney receives is likely to be negligible for the cost of the case, with legal experts indicating that each woman will now face legal bills of more than 1 million pounds ($1.2 million).
Vardy said she was “deeply saddened and disappointed by the judge’s decision”.
“This is not the outcome I was expecting and I don’t think it was fair,” she said in a statement. “I have filed this action to defend my reputation and am shocked by the judge’s outcome.”
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