Vardy admits knowing agent sent private details about Rooney to the Sun
Rebekah Vardy has admitted knowing that her agent was forwarding private information about Coleen Rooney to a journalist at the Sun.
Vardy, who denies leaking stories from Rooney’s private Instagram account to the same newspaper and has brought a multimillion-pound libel case in an attempt to clear her name, made the admission under cross-examination at the high court.
Vardy told the ongoing “Wagatha Christie” libel trial that she “didn’t think [her agent] was passing on any new information” to the Sun journalist Andy Halls for a story about Rooney supposedly crashing her car.
The wife of the Leicester City player Jamie Vardy insisted the Sun already knew the key details of the story in question and therefore she could not be the original source.
Rooney’s barrister, David Sherborne, asked Vardy: “You didn’t object at any stage to the fact that Ms Watt was plainly passing on information from Mrs Rooney’s private Instagram account to Andy Halls?”
Vardy replied: “I didn’t think she was passing on any new information.”
Sherborne pressed on: “Take the word ‘new’ out of it. Did you, or did you not, know that Ms Watt was passing on information from Mrs Rooney’s private account?”
Vardy replied: “She was talking to Mr Halls about information that was already being discussed.”
In one WhatsApp exchange heard by the court, Watt told Vardy that the Sun journalist was trying to confirm details for a story he was writing about Rooney. The agent asked Vardy whether Rooney had definitely crashed her car, a detail that allegedly came from the private Instagram account. She replied with the words: “Haha she deffo did.”
Rooney later posted a public tweet saying it was “sad” that someone who followed her was “betraying” her to the Sun.
Watt forwarded this tweet to Vardy, commenting: “It wasn’t someone she trusted. It was me.”
Rooney’s lawyer suggested this was an admission of guilt. Vardy told the court she didn’t reply because she was “watching Gemma Collins faceplanting on ice” on the ITV show Dancing on Ice.
Vardy was giving her final day of evidence in the week-long trial against Rooney, which has shone a light on the workings of celebrity tabloid culture.
The court heard that Rooney had become exasperated with information on her private Instagram account being leaked to the Sun. At one point she asked the “grass” to stop passing stories to the tabloid, which she described as a “scum of a newspaper”.
Rooney’s lawyers allege that Vardy was involved in leaking stories from the private Instagram account to the newspaper. They accused Vardy of lying during cross-examination and repeatedly changing her witness testimony during the lengthy legal proceedings.
Sherborne said he had wanted to search WhatsApp messages held on Watt’s phone but it had been dropped over the side of a boat and was now “lying at the bottom of sea in Davy Jones’s locker”.
Vardy asked the court: “Who is Davy Jones?” The judge intervened to explain the reference.
On Thursday morning Vardy also admitted collaborating with paparazzi agencies to stage supposedly authentic photos to sell to tabloid newspapers. However, she denied she had helped arrange a paparazzi photographer to ambush her and other footballer’s wives at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
“If I had intentionally arranged the picture … I would quite happily admit that I had,” she told the court.
The court heard a message exchange between Vardy and her agent in which the agent said she had “got a photographer sorted for tomorrow” and Vardy replied “OK”.
Vardy said she was “just trying to get [Watt] off my back and enjoy my evening – it had been quite a crazy few days.”
Sherborne suggested that Vardy attempted to stop some of the fellow footballers’ wives from posting a group picture on social media in order to protect the photographer’s exclusive.
Vardy said she did not recall some of the details of the night. “If I’m completely honest I had been drinking quite a bit.”
Coleen Rooney watched on intently and took extensive notes on Vardy’s evidence. The former England footballer Wayne Rooney sat beside his wife with his hands clasped, staring into space. Both are expected to give evidence in the coming days.
When Vardy began one answer by saying “if I’m honest …”, the barrister snapped back: “I would hope you’re honest because you’re sitting in a witness box.”
Sherborne also accused Vardy of having “selective amnesia”, to which she responded: “No.”
At one point Rooney’s barrister described a WhatsApp message in a conversation between Vardy and Watt that included the words “poor Coleen” followed by “laughing emojis”.
Vardy told the court she disputed this characterisation: “I don’t know whether they’re laughing emojis.”
The lawyer, in an apparent reference to the 😂 emoji, replied: “OK, crying with laughter.”