Rebekah Vardy has an “established history” of leaking people’s private information, Coleen Rooney’s lawyer has claimed as he called for the disclosure of more text messages and all payments she received from The Sun.
Ms Vardy, the wife of Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy, is suing Ms Rooney for libel after she was publicly accused of leaking “false stories” about the fellow footballer’s wife to the press.
Both she and her former agent Caroline Watt have denied being behind the alleged leaking of private information from the Instagram account of Ms Rooney, who is married to former England star Wayne Rooney.
But Ms Rooney’s lawyer David Sherborne on Wednesday told London’s High Court Ms Vardy had an “established history of leaking private information not just of Mrs Rooney but also others”.
The barrister alleged Ms Vardy and Ms Watt “created a lie together” to use “if it became obvious Mrs Vardy was responsible for the leaks, which it did”.
He claimed Ms Watt came up with the “agreed strategy” for the first time in a WhatsApp exchange as the pair discussed Ms Rooney unfollowing Ms Vardy on Instagram.
In a WhatsApp message to Ms Vardy, the publicist allegedly wrote: “If she does try to say it or that it was me and it’s undeniably obvious what we’ll do is say I left the company I was working for in Jan and one of the girls in the office have my old laptop that had your passwords saved on it so it will have been them and now you will have to change everything.”
According to Ms Rooney’s written case, messages exchanged between Ms Vardy and Ms Watt in January 2019 showed the pair discussing a post on Ms Rooney’s private Instagram where her car had been damaged.
Ms Vardy allegedly told Ms Watt she “would love to leak those stories”.
Mr Sherborne claimed Ms Watt was later responsible for the leak of the story to the newspaper, with Ms Vardy’s approval.
Days after the story about her car was published in The SunMs Rooney posted a tweet saying it was “sad” someone who followed her was “betraying” her.
According to written submissions, while discussing the tweet in a private WhatsApp conversation, Ms Watt told Ms Vardy “it wasn’t someone she trusted. It was me”, in a message accompanied by a laughing emoji.
Mr Sherborne on Wednesday claimed the disclosed messages showed Ms Vardy was a “direct leak”.
“Now what we allege is that she was the direct leak,” he told the court. “She was the person who actively sought out the private information from monitoring.”
He added: “She was the one who checked whether it was in the public domain and who leaked that information to The Sun and I say it is that active part that is now clear she played that demonstrates the misuse of private information.”
Other WhatsApp messages published in written submissions on Tuesday showed Ms Vardy appearing to brand Ms Rooney a “nasty b****” and “such ad***”.
But Hugh Tomlinson, for Ms Vardy, on Wednesday said the message was not about Ms Rooney, but someone else.
Ms Rooney’s barrister told the High Court her lawyers wanted further information from the WhatsApp messages between Ms Vardy and Ms Watt and details of payments Ms Vardy received from The Sun.
The court on Tuesday heard how Ms Watt’s phone had fallen into the North Sea when a boat she was on hit a wave shortly after a court ordered the phone should be specifically searched.
Discussing the lost phone on Wednesday, Mr Tomlinson said: “That is what happened. Mrs Vardy was not present when that happened. She (Ms Watt) was on holiday, she lost her phone.”
Mr Sherborne told the court Ms Watt sent Ms Vardy a text saying “I’ve got £500 for you from The Sun,” while a separate message from Ms Vardy to Ms Watt allegedly said: “We still need to make money.”
In a Twitter post from October 2019, Ms Rooney, the wife of former England star Wayne Rooney, claimed Ms Vardy had shared fake stories with The Sun newspaper.
Ms Rooney deliberately posted the false stories on her personal Instagram account, restricting her stories to only Ms Vardy, during a months-long “sting operation”.
Mrs Rooney is bringing a claim against Ms Watt for misuse of private information and is asking for it to be joined to the libel case, but Ms Vardy’s lawyers have opposed the application to add the claim.
Mr Tomlinson, for Ms Vardy, said the denied allegations had caused her “huge damage and distress”.
He added that Ms Rooney “relies upon selective and incomplete WhatsApp exchanges … conveniently ignoring the messages which demonstrate beyond doubt that the claimant was not responsible for leaking the defendant’s private information to The Sun”.
Ian Helme, for Ms Watt, said she had given “clear and consistent” denials against the claim for misuse of private information.
Mrs Justice Steyn is expected to hand down her preliminary judgment on Monday after evidence closed on Wednesday.
The trial is due to begin in early May but is likely to be delayed.