Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy are to come face-to-face in a final attempt to settle their high-profile ‘Wagatha Christie’ legal battle, as the High Court heard how both women are ‘sad’ the row has come so far.
At the start of their libel case at London’s High Court today, lawyers for both Wags agreed to pause legal proceedings until February 8 so that mediation can take place between them.
Hugh Tomlinson QC, representing Rebekah told Mr Justice Warby: ‘The parties have agreed subject to your lordship’s views that there should be one final attempt to resolve this after the conclusion to this preliminary hearing.’
Coleen Rooney has revealed she is confident of winning her libel battle against Rebekah Vardy but regrets that it has got ‘this far’ as the case gets underway at the High Court today
Rebekah, wife of Leicester City and England striker Jamie Vardy, launched a £1million High Court libel action after Coleen accused her in an Instagram post a year ago of leaking stories about her and others to the media
David Sherborne, representing Coleen told the court that she had offered to mediate with Rebekah and felt ‘sad’ because the time and money could be better spent than taking part in costly legal proceedings.
Mr Sherborne said: ‘Mrs Rooney says that Mrs Vardy was responsible for the leak of the stories to The Sun but she’s equally sad that this matter has got to court.
‘She’s been drawn into this litigation despite offering to mediate. The time and expense on this litigation at a time of life-changing events could be better spent.’
During the preliminary hearing, Mr Justice Warby heard arguments from both lawyers on whether Coleen was directly blaming Rebekah or her Instagram account and whoever was involved with it.
Mr Sherborne told the court that apart from Rebekah, others who had use of her Instagram account was her husband Jamie, her PR agent and his social media manager.
Mr Sherborne told the court that it was ‘common knowledge’ that celebrities alone did not operate their own social media accounts.
A document submitted to the court by Coleen’s legal team stated: ‘The source of the leaks of the Defendant’s private information was the Claimant’s account.
‘The emphasis of “except ONE account” (with capital letters) and the final words of the post make clear that the responsibility lies with a particular account.
‘As a result of this, a reasonable reader would conclude that there were reasonable grounds to suspect that the Claimant had leaked the information herself, but the finger is pointed firmly at the account, not the Claimant herself.’
But Mr Tomlinson hit back, describing Coleen’s claim that she was pointing the finger at either Rebekah or whoever was involved with her Instagram account as ‘nonsense.’
He told the court: ‘The idea that it’s common knowledge that a celebrity account is operated by other people is simply not true.
‘Mrs Rooney is not complaining about the account but about a disloyal individual. A reasonable reader would think that she has revealed the culprit. And that person is Rebekah Vardy.’
Mr Justice Warby is to rule on whether Coleen was blaming Rebekah or her Instagram account and deliver his judgment on Friday.
The ‘Wagatha Christie’ saga began a year ago when Coleen tweeted that she had secretly planted three fake stories on Instagram in the months before, but said she blocked all her followers except Rebekah from seeing them
Earlier in today’s hearing, Mr Tomlinson said Coleen’s posts were an ‘untrue and unjustified defamatory attack’ which was ‘published and republished to millions of people’
He said her accusation ‘leaves the reasonable reader in no doubt that the defendant is accusing the claimant of consistently and repeatedly betraying her trust over several years.’
He added: ‘In fact, she did nothing wrong. Whatever leaks there were did not come from her.’
Mr Tomlinson went through the lines of Coleen’s post, arguing how it would have been perceived.
He said: ‘This post was published and reshared to millions of people and gained wide public currency.’
Quoting from her post where she said she ‘now knows for certain’ who was leaking stories, Mr Tomlinson said the post leaves no doubt for the reasonable reader.
‘That is not the language of suspicion, that is the language of finding out the truth,’ he said.
Mr Tomlinson said while Coleen began with a suspicion, the post ended with a clear accusation after outlining her ‘detective process’.
He continued: ‘That is the process that has been characterised in the press as ‘Wagatha Christie’.
‘She is describing her detective process, it’s part of her process to find the true villain of the piece.’
Mr Tomlinson characterised the end of the post which named Rebekah’s account as ‘a series of dots waiting for a revelation’.
He added: ‘The person is Rebekah Vardy, the finger is being pointed at her, as the villain, the person, the someone, the one person.’
Mr Tomlinson said that the perception of the ordinary social media user reading the post would be clear: ‘They are going to think she (Mrs Rooney) has revealed the culprit… it was Rebekah Vardy that was leaking to The Sun, she was the one person who had access to the three stories, and she was the one person who had betrayed Mrs Rooney’s trust for many years.’
Mr Sherborne, for Coleen, said the social media post repeatedly refences the word ‘account’, which would not be read as an unequivocal accusation of guilt against Mrs Vardy by the ordinary social media user.
The barrister added a person may be ‘struck’ by the constant reference to the word account.
Mr Sherborne said: ‘That is the impression they would be left with and we say anything else would be over-elaborate.’
He later said it was ‘widely known’ that celebrities and media personalities may have their social media accounts managed by others.
Rebekah Vardy leaves after a training session at Planet Ice in Peterborough as she prepares to take part in Dancing On Ice 2021
Prior to today’s hearing, MailOnline revealed Rooney is confident of winning the case but regrets that it has got ‘this far’.
Contrary to widespread speculation, neither Rebekah or Coleen or their famous footballer husbands are in court today.
It is believed Rebekah that she will deny being ‘The Secret Wag,’ the Sun newspaper’s source of stories about Coleen and other footballers’ partners.
A spokesman for Coleen told MailOnline: ‘Coleen’s defence is already filed and in the public domain. It sets out the facts of her case and will be the same, whatever is decided today.
‘Given those facts, Coleen remains entirely confident in her position as she has been throughout.
‘It is still a matter of regret to her that the matter has been allowed by the other party to get this far.’
In a sensational 55-page defence document, Coleen has set out in granular detail why she thought Rebekah was behind the anonymous ‘Secret Wag’ column.
She described Rebekah as having an ‘established history and habitual practice of providing private information to journalists’.
A source said: ‘Becky is set to swear publicly and on oath to the High Court that she was not the so-called Secret Wag for the newspaper.’
The Secret Wag issue is seen as central by lawyers on both sides in establishing whether Rebecca did leak stories from Coleen’s private social media accounts to The Sun, which she has consistently denied.
Coleen has a 55 page defence document in which she set out in granular detail why she thought Rebekah was behind the anonymous ‘Secret Wag’ column in The Sun
The ‘Wagatha Christie’ saga began a year ago when Coleen tweeted that she had secretly planted three fake stories on Instagram in the months before, but said she blocked all her followers except Rebekah from seeing them.
After stories appeared which contained references to the faked posts, Coleen famously declared the results of her investigation, announcing: ‘It’s . . . Rebekah Vardy’s account.’
The mother-of-four, who shares Kai, 10, Klay, seven, Kit, four, and Cass, two, with Derby County footballer Wayne, also 34, is determined to fight off the libel case.
But for her part, Rebekah is seeking substantial damages and says she has suffered ‘severe and extreme hostility and abuse’ in the fallout after the claims were published on Instagram.
She is expected to make a bombshell courtroom denial of Coleen‘s claims that she was ‘The Secret Wag’.
A source said yesterday: ‘Becky is set to swear publicly and on oath to the High Court that she was not the so-called Secret Wag for the newspaper.’