Rebekah Vardy destroyed incriminating evidence in the “Wagatha Christie” case and lied about it under oath, the High Court in London was told as the libel trial reached its final day.
Both Ms Vardy and her footballer husband, Jamie Vardy, were heavily criticised by Coleen Rooney’s lawyers for the way they had conducted themselves during the trial.
Ms Vardy is suing Ms Rooney over the allegation that she leaked the latter’s private Instagram stories to The Sun.
While Ms Vardy brought the action, the case has been bruising for her reputation. At the hearing’s end, she broke down in tears and had to be consoled by her solicitor.
The Rooneys, who left court with beaming smiles on Tuesday after completing their evidence, were not present for the closing speeches. They sent their apologies to the judge via their barrister, who explained that they are on holiday.
Mr Vardy, the Leicester City striker, gave a statement outside court on Tuesday denouncing the evidence of Wayne Rooney, his former England teammate.
David Sherborne, representing Ms Rooney, said: “It is not lost on the court that while he gave a press statement when not under oath, Mr Vardy was apparently unwilling to give one for the purposes of these proceedings.”
He suggested that Mr Vardy “didn’t want his evidence to be tested in the same way Mr Rooney’s was”.
Mr Sherborne described Ms Vardy as “an entirely unreliable witness” who had made a concerted effort to destroy “incriminating” evidence in the case.
Her “deliberate trail of destruction” included a string of WhatsApp messages to Caroline Watt, her agent, regarding Ms Rooney.
“The only conclusion the court can reach is that Ms Vardy deleted the chat and then lied under oath about it,” Mr Sherborne said.
The case burst into the public eye in 2019 when Ms Rooney announced on social media that she had posted fake Instagram stories in a sting operation to identify which of her followers had been leaking information.
She restricted access to only one follower and wrote in her “reveal” post: “It’s... Rebekah Vardy’s account.”
Ms Watt had access to Ms Vardy’s account. Ms Rooney’s lawyers argue that if Ms Watt leaked the stories, it was with Ms Vardy’s encouragement or approval.
Some of the WhatsApp messages did survive, including one in which Ms Vardy and Ms Watt discussed Ms Rooney’s fears that she had been betrayed by someone she trusted, and Ms Watt said: “It wasn’t someone she trusted. It was me.”
That evidence, Mr Sherborne said, “is there in black and white”.
In another message, Ms Vardy asked Ms Watt: “Can we not leak a story?”
Mr Sherborne mocked the explanation Ms Vardy gave in court, which was that “although that is what she wrote, she in fact meant something completely different”.
He told the court Ms Vardy’s case had “almost entirely disintegrated” over the course of the proceedings.
“In many respects this trial has been extraordinary,” he said.
“Extraordinary because of the tenacity of the claimant in backtracking on her admissions of leaks. Extraordinary because of the documentary evidence that flatly contradicts the claimant’s account, as well as the extent to which it plainly demonstrates her consistent practice of secretly leaking information to the press.
“Extraordinary because of the absence of the central figure – Caroline Watt.”
Ms Watt is too unwell to give evidence and was unable to hand over her WhatsApp messages because her mobile phone fell into the North Sea during a boat trip in Scotland.
Hugh Tomlinson QC, Ms Vardy’s barrister, said his client “does not know to this day” who leaked the stories but accepted that “the obvious suspect is Caroline Watt”.
However, Mr Tomlinson said that the case against Ms Vardy “only works if she was proven to know about it. The case points the other way.”
He said: “Ms Vardy has obviously made mistakes. The most serious may have been to trust Ms Watt, her agent.”
Mr Tomlinson said another of Ms Vardy’s mistakes was to make remarks on WhatsApp that “she would obviously not have said” had she known they would be made public. They include referring to Ms Rooney as a “c***”.
In his closing submission, he said: “Anyone could be forgiven for wondering how on earth this case has been allowed to get this far.”
Ms Justice Steyn, the judge, reserved her ruling until a later date.
(© Telegraph Media Group Ltd 2022)
Telegraph Media Group Limited