Rebekah Vardy benefited from the leakage of stories about Coleen Rooney at The Sun as part of a “habitual practice” between her and the newspaper, the High Court heard.
Ms. Rooney, 35, accused Ms. Vardy, 39, of leaking “false stories” about her personal life in October 2019 after performing a month-long “stab operation” during which she was called “Wagatha Christie”.
Former English star Wayne Rooney’s wife claimed her soccer player’s wife shared fake stories with the newspaper that she posted on her personal Instagram account.
“Nobody knew there were fake posts, nobody was told, not even her husband, Mr. Rooney,” Mrs. Rooney’s attorney, David Sherborne, said in court on Friday.
Ms. Rooney then wrote on Instagram and Twitter: “For a number of years someone I trusted to follow me on my personal Instagram account has consistently informed The Sun newspaper about my private posts and stories.
“I saved all the original stories and provided them with screenshots that clearly show that only one person saw them. It is………. Rebekah Vardy’s account. “
Ms. Vardy, who is married to Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy, denies the allegations and is suing Ms. Rooney for defamation in a case that has cost hundreds of thousands of pounds, the court said on Friday.
In the latest hearing, Ms. Vardy’s attorneys asked the High Court to dismiss parts of Ms. Rooney’s defense, including allegations about Ms. Vardy’s close relationship with The Sun.
Hugh Tomlinson QC, for Ms. Vardy, said, “The purpose of this application is to get rid of what we call a lot of irrelevant or peripheral material in order to save time and money.”
Mr. Tomlinson denied that Ms. Vardy wanted these pieces of defense to be thrown away because they would be embarrassing to her.
The court heard that Ms. Vardy was subjected to “widespread” abuse after the post and the attorney added, “Your children were also molested in school and this is a very serious matter from her point of view.”
Mr. Tomlinson said parts of the defense over Ms. Vardy’s relationship with The Sun newspaper, including her alleged but contested authorship of “The Secret Wag” column, were not relevant to the trial.
“Much of it is so off-topic that it is obviously irrelevant,” he told the court.
Mr Tomlinson added that even if it had an exceptionally close relationship with the newspaper, that “does not mean that it is more likely that Plaintiff has regularly informed The Sun of Defendants’ private contributions”.
The attorney told the court that after the defamation suit was announced, the author of the “Secret Wag” wrote a column predicting that Ms. Rooney would win the case.
“That was clearly a subtle distraction for the plaintiff while writing the column,” said Tomlinson.
Mr Tomlinson later stressed that both women have public profiles and their own relationships with the media.
He said, “What happened in this case is that the defendant went through the plaintiff’s appearances in the newspapers, added two and two, and made seven.”
The attorney also told the court that Ms. Rooney’s entire defense would add two days to the trial, adding tens of thousands of pounds to the cost of the case.
Ms. Vardy also moved for a summary judgment – a legal move that would result in this part of the case being resolved without trial – regarding Ms. Rooney’s allegation that Ms. Vardy leaked a story to The Sun about her return to TV presentation.
Ms. Rooney said she prevented everyone but Ms. Vardy from seeing her Instagram stories between September 1 and October 4, 2019 before taking a selfie that read, “Make my way back to work easier !! TV Decisions Today ”on September 25th.
A story telling of her desire to revive her television career appeared on The Sun’s website three days later, Ms. Rooney claims.
However, Mr Tomlinson said the story of The Sun was part of a series of articles claiming Ms. Rooney wanted to return to television.
“Whether this was a leak from someone else or from the defendant herself … someone had informed the newspapers that they were considering getting back on TV,” he said.
Mr Sherborne declined the offer to drop parts of Ms. Rooney’s case, arguing that Ms. Vardy’s “exceptionally close relationship” with The Sun was an important part of the case.
In written submissions, Mr. Sherborne said that Ms. Vardy had a “common practice” of providing private information to the press in order to promote her profile.
He said: “The timing of positive coverage of the plaintiff on The Sun was strikingly close to the publication of other articles leaked through the defendant’s private Instagram.
“This supports the conclusion that the plaintiff benefited from the disclosure of private information about the defendant to the newspaper.”
Mr. Sherborne added that Ms. Vardy used her close relationship with The Sun or her journalists “for the purpose of promoting or financially exploiting her public profile.”
Ms. Rooney’s attorney said the evidence showed Ms. Vardy was in “a very troubled position” and said the dismissal motion was a tactical move as it “would undermine her case and embarrass her” .
The hearing before Ms. Justice Steyn is expected to close on Friday afternoon.