Rebekah Vardy has denied “orchestrating” a photo of footballers’ wives and girlfriends at the 2018 World Cup, on the third day of her High Court libel trial against Coleen Rooney.
n Thursday, Mrs Vardy entered the witness box for the third time on what is expected to be the final day of her evidence in what has been dubbed the “Wagatha Christie” case.
In a viral social media post in October 2019, Mrs Rooney, 36, said she had carried out a “sting operation” and accused Mrs Vardy, 40, of leaking “false stories” about her private life to the press.
Mrs Vardy, who is married to Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy, denies leaking stories to the media and is suing her fellow footballer’s wife for libel, while Mrs Rooney is defending the claim on the basis her post was “substantially true”.
The Indo Daily: Playing Detective – Wagatha Christie and the long-running Rooney Vardy feud
Continuing his questions on Thursday, Mrs Rooney’s barrister, David Sherborne, said Mrs Vardy had been “saved by the bell” after Wednesday’s hearing finished slightly early due to repeated alarms in a part of the Royal Courts of Justice.
Mrs Vardy was asked a number of questions about a photo taken of a group of England players’ wives and girlfriends while at a St Petersburg restaurant during the World Cup in Russia in 2018.
Mr Sherborne referred to a message exchange between Mrs Vardy and her agent, Caroline Watt, at the time, in which Ms Watt said she had “got a photographer sorted for tomorrow” and Mrs Vardy replied “OK”.
However, Mrs Vardy said Ms Watt had arranged for a photographer to take pictures of her as she left her hotel, but denied giving the photographer the location of either the hotel or a restaurant she went to the same evening with a group of the England team’s wives and girlfriends.
“I didn’t arrange the photograph outside of the restaurant,” she told the court.
She also said she was “happy” to be photographed leaving the hotel, but claimed that updates she sent to Ms Watt when plans changed throughout the evening were not because she was working with the agent to arrange a “pap shot” of the group as they left the restaurant.
During a further exchange with Mr Sherborne, Mrs Vardy again denied having orchestrated the photograph, adding: “If I had intentionally arranged the picture … I would quite happily admit that I had.”
She said that, by replying as she did to Ms Watt, she was “just trying to get her off my back actually and enjoy my evening, it had been quite a crazy few days”.
But Mr Sherborne later suggested: “You were perfectly happy for this staged photo to take place, perfectly happy for Caroline Watt to do the dirty as long as the dirt doesn’t come back on you.”
“Not true,” Mrs Vardy replied.
Mrs Vardy, in a blue and white dress and blazer, was watched throughout her evidence by Mrs Rooney, sitting beside her husband Wayne.
Mr Sherborne also asked Mrs Vardy about an exchange with her agent Ms Watt discussing an article about the wives and girlfriends of the England players at the 2018 tournament, which described them as having a “great time” and being in Russia to “back our boys”.
The barrister put it to Mrs Vardy that the Football Association (FA) were “worried” about the wives and girlfriends “drawing too much attention”, to which she said she could not comment on the FA’s position.
Referring to the article, she said: “If I’m honest, I can’t remember that at all.”
Mr Sherborne replied: “Well, I would much rather you were honest, because you are in a witness box under oath.”
He then suggested that, far from not wanting attention, Mrs Vardy was “trying to create attention” and that is why she had “stage-managed the photograph of the girls”, which Mrs Vardy denied.
Mrs Rooney is defending the libel claim on the basis of truth and public interest.
The court previously heard that both women have spent “hundreds of thousands of pounds” on the case so far, with the total costs of the case expected to be at least £2 million.
The libel battle comes after Mrs Rooney publicly claimed an account behind three fake stories she had posted on her personal Instagram account with The Sun newspaper was Mrs Vardy’s.
The fake stories Mrs Rooney planted on her Instagram during the sting operation featured her travelling to Mexico for a “gender selection” procedure, her planning to return to TV, and the basement flooding at her home.
In the post on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, she wrote: “I have saved and screenshotted all the original stories which clearly show just one person has viewed them.
“It’s ………. Rebekah Vardy’s account.”
The TV personality faced about half an hour of questioning on the first day of the trial on Tuesday, before about five hours of cross-examination by Mrs Rooney’s barrister, David Sherborne, on Wednesday.
Mrs Vardy, who was watched throughout by Mrs Rooney, who sat metres away in the courtroom, at one point grew tearful at the start of a question about some of the abuse she and her family have received.
Mrs Vardy will go back into the witness box on Thursday and is expected to finish her evidence, with Mrs Rooney due to begin hers on Friday.
Yesterday, Rebekah Vardy denied telling lies on oath in her ‘Wagatha Christie’ libel trial at the High Court in London, as she insisted she was not aware whether her agent was “stalking” Coleen Rooney.
The two Wags are at war over Rooney’s 2019 bombshell revelation she suspected former friend Vardy of leaking stories about her to The Sun newspaper.
In evidence yesterday, Mrs Vardy said texts between her and agent Caroline Watt — allegedly about leaking information on cheating footballers, model Danielle Lloyd, and former Leicester midfielders Danny Drinkwater and Riyad Mahrez — looked bad but were merely “gossip”.
David Sherborne, for Mrs Rooney, showed the court messages about an image posted to Rooney’s private Instagram account, that Vardy believed showed one of the Rooney children on the way to school without a seatbelt on.
“Yes it is, but on her private Instagram, so can’t do anything with it,” replied Ms Watt.
Mr Sherborne suggested Vardy “knew perfectly well (Ms Watt) is monitoring Mrs Rooney’s account”, and pointed out Vardy sa™id on oath yesterday that she was unaware of her agent looking at other people’s private Instagram information through her log-in.
“She has had to look through to find Mrs Rooney’s account,” said Mr Sherborne.
Vardy told the court: “I didn’t know she was intentionally going to people’s Instagrams to check information or see what they have posted. We were just gossiping.” She added: “She never said once she was stalking her account.”
Mr Sherborne told her: “Our case is that far from being aware of what was happening, Ms Watt was looking through Mrs Rooney’s private Instagram account with your permission.
“You knew exactly what she was doing, and you condoned it.”
“No that’s not true,” replied Vardy.
Mr Sherborne suggested Vardy cannot admit she knew about Ms Watt’s alleged activities as “the last shred of your case would vanish”.
“I didn’t admit that,” she said.
“It’s a lie, isn’t it,” said Mr Sherborne, to which Vardy replied: “No.”
Earlier in her evidence, Vardy said she was “absolutely just joking” when she told her agent to leak a story about an affair between a footballer and a famous married TV personality.
Messages from September 2018 show Vardy telling Ms Watt to “leak the story” about the TV star “shagging [another man] behind [her partner’s] back”.
Vardy accepted the messages read like she was directing a leak, but she told the court: “That’s the way it reads, but in context it is bits of information in with other bits of information.
“I was absolutely just joking about that one. I was gossiping, that (information) was circling quite a bit.
“I used the word ‘leak’ where I probably shouldn’t use the word ‘leak’.”
Vardy said she had read news stories about the woman involved, saying she was “shocked and disgusted”, but denied orchestrating a leak about the affair.
“Our WhatsApps were sometimes outrageous, sometimes totally inappropriate”, she said of the messages with Ms Watt.
“These are a lot of conversations between friends gossiping, poking fun about people.
“Yes, they don’t read very well, but there are always explanations for them. This wasn’t just someone I knew, this was a friend.”
Vardy said it was a “bit of harmless gossip” when she contemplated passing a tip to a reporter about her husband’s teammate Riyad Mahrez going on strike.
Messages aired in court show Vardy told her agent Caroline Watt that Mahrez had not turned up for training at Leicester in February 2018 while trying to force through a move to Manchester City, adding: “Lads are fuming”. She is then accused of agreeing to Ms Watt’s suggestion that the information could be passed to a Sky Sports News reporter, with the caveat: “Just don’t want it coming back on me.”
Asked about the incident and accused of breaking the trust of Leicester and her husband, Vardy called the messages “speculation” and “gossip”.
“It doesn’t look good,” she told the High Court.
“I was gossiping about things already in the public domain and the press were camped outside the training ground, taking pictures of players going in and out.
When pressed by Mr Sherborne that she had discussed leaking news from within the Leicester dressing room, Vardy said she did not know definitely that Mahrez’s teammates were “fuming”, she said: “I didn’t know that for a fact at all.”
Vardy insisted that the information was not given to Sky News, and added: “We were just having a gossip about something that was already in the public domain.
Vardy did accept trying to leak information on footballer Danny Drinkwater when he was arrested for drink driving, and had a “fleeting” thought that she wanted paying for the story.
However, she said the tip was not taken by The Sun as journalists already knew about the arrest.
Mrs Vardy is due to finish her evidence early this afternoon.
https://www.independent.ie/news/wagatha-christie-rebekah-vardy-denies-orchestrating-photo-of-wags-at-2018-world-cup-41641658.html Wagatha Christie: Rebekah Vardy denies ‘orchestrating’ photo of WAGs at 2018 World Cup