Coleen Rooney began giving evidence and Rebekah Vardy finished hers on the fourth day of the pair’s Wagatha Christie High Court battle today. The 36-year-old accused Vardy of leaking stories about her from her in October 2019.
Rooney uploaded several fake stories to her private Instagram account in a bid to find out who was “betraying” her before revealing it on Twitter in her now-infamous Wagatha Christie post. Vardy denies the allegations and is suing Rooney, the wife of England star Wayne, for libel.
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Here are nine things we learned from today’s hearing:
Rooney thought Vardy “actively wanted to be famous”
She said in her witness statement that Vardy “certainly stuck out to me as being someone who actively wanted to be famous” and used a “common tactic” of staging paparazzi shots. She also said she had “never had an issue” with Vardy and the pair “got on fine”.
But she said Vardy was “keen to be friendly with me and she was trying too hard and it was a bit too much”. She went on to say that, in hindsight, she believes messages Vardy sent to her were “fishing” for information and thought being close to her would “help her own interests”.
Giving evidence, Rooney said she had never rowed with a WAG before. Rooney also said she does not claim Vardy leaked the information for money and added: “I have been around for long enough to know that there are various reasons why celebrities would want to maintain a positive relationship with tabloid journalists. Most importantly, to help unfavorable stories from coming to light and to assist with self-promotion.”
Rooney ‘didn’t want the press to know her and Wayne were getting back together’ after he was caught drinking-driving with Laura Simpson in the car in 2017. Rooney said she was in a “vulnerable situation” when an article in The Sun referenced a picture she had put on her private Instagram of Wayne and the kids at home.
Giving evidence, Rooney said: “I didn’t know how my marriage was going to work out. I didn’t know what was going on in that relationship so we agreed to work things out.
“At this time there was speculation I was back at the house as I was spending a lot of time at my parents house.
“That was information I was happy to share with my private group and we were trying to sort out the relationship and see where things were going. But I didn’t want the public to know that. I didn’t want them to know, ‘this is it we are getting back together’. I know how quick the press are to jump on things.”
She also told the court she had had a “terrible time” when the family moved to America after Wayne signed for DC United. She explained she had “never believed in homesickness” until the move to Washington and she “cried every night” as she missed her family in the UK.
When Rooney first published the Wagatha Tweet, she claims Vardy asked her ‘Wtf is this’
In her witness statement, Rooney said that, after she posted her Wagatha tweet, Vardy messaged her with a screenshot of the post and said: “Wtf is this”.
In a phone call Vardy then said it “must have been Rooney’s PR”, Rooney claimed. Rooney claimed Vardy had told her that a “team of people” had access to her account of her.
Rooney said: “I felt like Becky was just completely changing her story. I got the impression that Becky had been caught red-handed and was like a rabbit in the headlights.”
Vardy said she felt ‘bullied’ while giving evidence to the court. As Vardy completed her evidence this morning, her barrister Hugh Tomlinson QC asked her: “How have you found giving evidence in this case?
“Exhausting, intimidating, I feel like I have been bullied and manipulated”, she said.
Asked why she chose to go ahead with the legal action, Vardy said: “Because I didn’t do anything wrong and I wanted to clear my name, not just for me but for my family and for my children.”
Rooney said the ‘leaks’ affected her relationships
In her witness statement, Rooney said the alleged leaks “messed with her head”, explaining: “Going through the Instagram accounts of friends and family one-by-one and assessing whether or not you thought they were responsible for leaking information about you to The Sun was a horrible exercise.
“One of the most difficult aspects of having to deal with information from the private Instagram account being leaked to the press was the strain that it had on my relationships. It was horrible having friends think that they were under the microscope and needed to explain themselves.”
Rooney said she went through her list of followers to narrow down who could be responsible for the leaks, and ruled out Real Housewives of Cheshire stars Dawn Ward and Leanne Brown.
She said in her statement: “I have known them since I was around 18 years old and I had a social connection with them and had been with them at numerous private social events over the years and nothing had ever been leaked about those events.”
Giving evidence, she said: “I have been in their social circles many many times. There is information that could have leaked that’s never leaked.” Rooney said reading Ella’s messages about her late sister Ella made her ‘sick’
Rooney said it “knocked me sick” when she read a message from Vardy to Watt about her late sister Rosie and said it was “really low and sad.” Rosie, who suffered from Rett Syndrome, passed away, aged 14, in 2013.
Vardy is said to have suggested to Watt “maybe I should say something about Rosie” when discussing how Rooney appeared to have unfollowed her on Instagram in February 2019. Earlier in the trial, Vardy denied suggesting that using the anniversary of Rosie’s death could be ” the peg” to message Rooney.
Rooney says the Wagatha Tweet came after a ‘long investigation’
Rooney said in her witness statement that she first started to suspect Vardy was leaking her stories in January 2019, due to her “relationship with The Sun newspaper”, her “desire to be famous” and the messages she had sent her.
She said she uploaded a few “dummy run” stories to test if she could block all of her followers except Vardy before launching the sting, initially for a few days, in April 2019. When none of her stories made their way into the papers, she re-added her other followers to her stories, the court heard.
She said in the statement: “Nobody knew the details of what was going on apart from me. It killed me not telling anyone about it but I managed it.”
In August, Rooney said she relaunched the sting with a “real mix of stories ranging from mundane posts… to content which I thought was more likely to be of interest to The Sun.” Rooney even considered whether Vardy would discuss her Ella’s Instagram stories with mutual friends she knew were going to her Ella’s house for a BBQ.
She then added those friends to view her Instagram stories with Vardy so she would not realize she was the subject of a sting.
The night before revealing the sting, Rooney said she uploaded a post to her private Instagram with a quote which said “Don’t play games with a girl who can play better” with the caption “One thing am not stupid…much wiser than you think”.
She said her husband was in America at the time and she did not speak to him before making the post. She said: “The post was the result of a long investigation. I was certain based on what I thought was the extremely strong evidence that Becky had been secretly passing on posts and information from my private Instagram.”
Rooney was ‘fuming’ at the time she sent the Wagatha post
In her witness statement, Rooney said she did not want to confront Vardy privately as she would “probably just try to explain it away” or “pretend to be my friend and supportive and then spin the narrative publicly”.
She added: “I was also smoking at the time.
“I believed it was in the public interest for me to make that statement. I still do now. It was wrong for Becky to leak stories about me and about other people for the whole world to read it in the newspaper. No doubt similar behavior by Becky was also a real worry for many others too. I am glad I have put an end to it.”
Of the abuse Vardy received, Rooney said: “Although I still believe what I did was right (and that my belief is it was Becky who was responsible for leaking my stories), I certainly did not expect or want anyone to send her the abusive and threatening messages that I have seen were sent following the post. That is completely unacceptable for her and her family of her and I would never wish that on her of her.
“I should also say that I have received abuse and trolling from the post, despite the fact that I was right in what I said.”
The trial continues.