Rebekah Vardy has spoken out after her bitter defeat in the 'Wagatha Christie' libel case she brought against Coleen Rooney.
The claim related to a viral social media post in October 2019 in which Mrs Rooney, 36, said she had carried out a months-long "sting operation" and accused Vardy, 40, of leaking 'false stories' about her to the press.
The wife of former England footballer Wayne Rooney claimed Mrs Vardy’s account was the source behind three stories in The Sun newspaper featuring fake details she had posted on her private Instagram stories.
Mrs Vardy, who is married to Leicester 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 that her post was "substantially true."
In a much-anticipated ruling on Friday, Mrs Justice Steyn found in Mrs Rooney’s favour and dismissed the claim against her. After the judgment, Mrs Vardy thanked her supporters and said she was "extremely sad and disappointed at the decision that the judge has reached."
She continued: "As I explained in my evidence I, my family and even my unborn baby, were subjected to disgusting messages and vile abuse following Coleen’s post and these have continued even during the course of the trial. Please can the people who have been abusing me and my family now stop. The case is over. I want to thank everyone who has supported me.
"I am extremely sad and disappointed at the decision that the judge has reached. It is not the result that I had expected, nor believe was just. I brought this action to vindicate my reputation and am devastated by the judge’s finding.
"The judge accepted that publication of Coleen’s post was not in the 'public interest' and she also rejected her claim that I was the 'Secret Wag.' But as for the rest of her judgement, she got it wrong and this is something I cannot accept."
In her own statement following the judgment, Mrs Rooney welcomed her victory and said she had "no ill-will" towards Mrs Vardy. She said: "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.
"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 Vardy."
Finding in favour of Mrs Rooney, Mrs Justice Steyn said it was "likely" that Mrs Vardy’s agent at the time, Caroline Watt, "undertook the direct act" of passing the information to The Sun.
But she added: "Nonetheless, the evidence … clearly shows, in my view, that Mrs Vardy knew of and condoned this behaviour, actively engaging in it by directing Ms Watt to the private Instagram account, sending her screenshots of Mrs Rooney’s posts, drawing attention to items of potential interest to the press, and answering additional queries raised by the press via Ms Watt."
It is believed the total legal costs of the case will be in the region of £3 million, most of which will now be paid by Mrs Vardy.