Wagatha Christie trial: what are the legal costs of Rebekah Vardy vs Coleen Rooney libel case - latest news

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Rebekah Vardy could end up paying Coleen Rooney an estimated £2 million in legal costs

The libel battle between Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney has finally concluded- with Rooney coming out victorious.

The high profile case has cost both women hundreds of thousands of pounds over the three-year-saga.

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It all began with a viral social media post in October 2019, when 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.

Mrs Vardy, who is married to Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy, denied leaking stories to the media and sued her fellow footballer’s wife for libel, while Mrs Rooney defended the claim on the basis her post was “substantially true”.

The civil case has now been resolved with Justice Steyn ruling in Rooney’s favour, however the legal fees incurred by the pair could end up outweighing the costs of any damages.

But how much could they end up paying out and what was the verdict? Here’s what you need to know.

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The Wagatha Christie libel case has started. Left Coleen Rooney, and right Rebekah Vardy.The Wagatha Christie libel case has started. Left Coleen Rooney, and right Rebekah Vardy.
The Wagatha Christie libel case has started. Left Coleen Rooney, and right Rebekah Vardy. | PA

What is the case about?

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 was dubbed “Wagatha Christie” when she publicly claimed an account behind three fake stories she had posted on her personal Instagram account with The Sun newspaper was Mrs Vardy’s.

Mrs Vardy, who is married to Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy, denies leaking stories to the media and sued her fellow footballer’s wife for libel, while Mrs Rooney defended the claim on the basis her post was “substantially true”.

What was the verdict?

The verdict was announced on 29 July and ruled in favour of Mrs Rooney.

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In the ruling, Mrs Justice Steyn stated it was “likely” that the leaks had came from Mrs Vardy’s agent Caroline Watt.

The agent’s phone mysteriously fell into the North Sea before Mrs Rooney’s legal team could review it.

Watt was not present at the trial and did not give evidence after being ruled physically unfit to do so.

Delivering the ruling, Justice Stern also acknowledged that Mrs Vardy had faced “vile abuse” following Rooney’s post.

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She said: “Some members of the public have responded to the reveal post by subjecting Mrs Vardy to vile abuse, including messages wishing her, her family, and even her then-unborn baby, ill in the most awful terms.

“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.”

Wayne and Coleen Rooney leave the Royal Courts Of Justice, London, as the high-profile libel battle between Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney goes to trial.Wayne and Coleen Rooney leave the Royal Courts Of Justice, London, as the high-profile libel battle between Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney goes to trial.
Wayne and Coleen Rooney leave the Royal Courts Of Justice, London, as the high-profile libel battle between Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney goes to trial. | PA

How much could the legal fees cost?

The court heard that both women have spent “hundreds of thousands of pounds” on the case so far.

And the total costs of the case expected to be at least £2 million.

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The fake stories Mrs Rooney planted on her Instagram during the sting operation featured her travelling to Mexico for a “gender selection” procedure, her planning to return to TV, and the basement flooding at her home.

What did Mrs Vardy say in court?

Mrs Vardy has repeatedly denied leaking information to newspapers, telling the court: “I have been called a leaker and it’s not nice.”

The footballer’s wife took Mrs Rooney to court to sue her for defamation over the social media posts in 2019.

Mr Rooney’s barrister David Sherborne claimed there were “only two real suspects” with the blame being pinned on either Mrs Vardy or her agent Caroline Watt.

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He said there were some “hopeless, speculative theories” that a hacker was involved, but the barrister dismissed these as “wild speculation” with no evidence to support them.

Mr Sherborne added: “It comes back to the two suspects, Caroline Watt and Mrs Vardy herself. We say they were both in it together”.

Under questioning, Rebekah Vardy confirmed that she did not tell Coleen Rooney that her agent Caroline Watt had access to her private Instagram account.

Earlier on Tuesday, Mrs Vardy’s barrister Hugh Tomlinson QC said she had to bring the libel claim to “vindicate her reputation”.

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He said in written submissions: “The allegation in the post was and remains false: Mrs Vardy had not leaked information about Mrs Rooney or her friends and family to The Sun newspaper from her private Instagram account.

“Mrs Rooney did not have the ‘irrefutable’ evidence that she claimed to have had: her so-called ‘careful investigation’ was nothing of the sort.

“If anyone had been leaking information from Mrs Rooney’s private Instagram this was not done with Mrs Vardy’s knowledge or approval.”

The barrister also said that Mrs Rooney’s alleged investigation into the leaks “was in fact a pre-determined blinkered operation with the aim of ‘outing’ Mrs Vardy”.

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Rebekah Vardy.Rebekah Vardy.
Rebekah Vardy. | PA

What has Mrs Rooney said?

After news of the verdict was announced, Mrs Rooney released a statement to the PA News Agency.

In it, she explained the trail should never “have gone to court” and thanked her legal team, family, friends and members of the public for support.

You can read Rooney’s full statement below:

“Naturally, I am pleased that the judge has found in my favour with her judgement today.

“It was not a case I ever sought or wanted. I never believed it should 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.

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“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. All my attempts to do so were knocked back by Mrs (Rebekah) 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.

“Finally, I would like to thank all of my legal team, my family, friends and everyone who supported me, including the public, through this difficult and stressful time.”

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