Coleen Rooney has been told she cannot provide ‘a shred of evidence’ that Rebekah Vardy leaked stories from a private Instagram account to The Sun – but insisted she had good reason to ‘believe “that Vardy was responsible based on circumstantial evidence.
Rooney told the ‘Wagatha Christie’ libel trial that leaks of her private Instagram account to The Sun caused problems when she faced difficulties in her marriage to former footballer Wayne Rooney. She said a private Instagram post in 2017 made its way to the tabloid at a time when she and Rooney were “trying to figure out our relationship” and spending time apart, after they crashed her car while he was driving drunk with another woman in the vehicle. .
She said it was heartbreaking when The Sun learned of the private photo, which suggested the family was together again. “I had no idea how my marriage was going to go and if I was going to continue my relationship,” she told the London High Court. “We had to try to work things out.”
Vardy’s solicitor, Hugh Tomlinson QC, told Coleen Rooney there was “not a shred of evidence” that Vardy leaked private Instagram information about the couple to The Sun. He suggested that another of Rooney’s more than 300 subscribers may have been responsible for passing information to reporters at the tabloid.
Rooney said: “It was someone who was on my Instagram account and I believe it was Ms Vardy.”
Tomlinson replied, “I didn’t ask you what you believe, I asked if you could be sure.”
He repeatedly told Rooney that beliefs don’t count as hard evidence: “You might believe Derbyshire could win the Premiership in two years. That’s not proof, is it? »
Derby County manager Wayne Rooney didn’t react when he heard the jibe about his football team, which was recently relegated to League One – the third tier of English football – amid difficulties financial.
Coleen Rooney is being sued for defamation by the wife of another footballer, Vardy, who denies Rooney’s public accusation that she forwarded stories from Rooney’s Instagram account to the Sun newspaper. Vardy is married to Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy.
Rooney insisted there was overwhelming evidence that Vardy’s Instagram account was accessing the leaked material. “I thought about it a lot,” she said. “I was in the public eye for 20 years. I have become very savvy about how people work and journalists. I hate gossip, I’m not a gossip. Everything added to me that it came from this account.
She said she became “really suspicious” of Vardy leaking to The Sun because Vardy was actively seeking publicity for herself, had previously provided exclusives to The Sun and had exchanged unusual messages with Rooney.
In early 2019, Rooney blocked Vardy from viewing the account, only for Vardy to message him and request access be restored. Rooney said the complaint made her even more suspicious that Vardy was responsible for the leaks – leading her to carry out a now infamous sting operation in which Rooney posted fake updates to see which ended in stories in the Sun.
In cross-examination, Rooney repeatedly detailed his strong dislike of the Sun newspaper and said his life “has been set apart by the media for the past 20 years”.
In an initial preliminary hearing, a judge ruled that the real meaning of Rooney’s 2019 public accusation that “this is………Rebekah Vardy’s account” was a direct allegation that Vardy herself had leaked to The Sun – rather than just anyone with access to Vardy’s account. As the person who brought the charge, the onus is on Rooney to prove that his request was true or in the public interest.
For his part, Vardy argued that his agent, Caroline Watt, may have leaked the material to The Sun without his knowledge. Although Vardy acknowledged that her agent was discussing private information about Rooney with a Sun reporter, she insisted she was not the original source of the leaks.
Rooney told the court that the paparazzi photographed her ‘most of the time’ and that her life in the US, where she moved to be with her husband in 2018 while he was playing for DC United, had been miserable . She said she “cried every night” while living abroad because she missed her family and the leak of a private story on Instagram about a supposed car accident with the Sun had made things more difficult.
She told the court: “I don’t understand why the press cares about most things – I wouldn’t want to read what they write about me because most of what they write about me is ridiculous. “
Vardy’s lawyer replied, “Maybe that’s something we can agree on.”
Earlier in the day, Vardy completed her cross-examination after four days of testimony in which she was accused of habitually leaking information to The Sun, destroying evidence on purpose and helping reporters obtain information about Rooney. .
Vardy said the experience of being cross-examined was “exhausting” and “daunting”. But she stood by the decision to bring the case in order to restore her public reputation. “I did nothing wrong and I want my name cleared, not just for me but for my family and my children,” she said.
The trial continues.