By PA High Court staff
Coleen Rooney is glad she “put an end” to Rebekah Vardy allegedly leaking other people’s information after her bid to catch the person “betraying” her “red-handed”, the UK High Court was told in the women’s libel battle.
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”.
On Friday afternoon, Mrs Rooney began giving evidence in Court 13 of the Royal Courts of Justice, facing questions from Mrs Vardy’s barrister Hugh Tomlinson QC.
Asked what she set out to achieve with the widely shared post, Mrs Rooney replied: “I wasn’t achieving anything, what I wanted was to stop the person who was leaking my private information to The Sun.”
Mrs Rooney added that she had given out warnings “many times”, but “it didn’t stop”.
“This was my last resort,” she continued. In a witness statement, she outlined her “growing sense of suspicion” that Mrs Vardy’s account might be linked to alleged leaks.
She explained she made two warning posts on social media and temporarily removed Rebekah Vardy from her account “but nothing had worked”.
Mrs Rooney added that she “wanted to catch the account responsible ‘red-handed’ as it were and so I came up with a plan”, before outlining her so-called “sting operation” of positing fake stories and limiting access to them to Mrs Vardy’s Instagram account.
She claimed that her concerns “went beyond my own posts”, writing: “I knew that I could not be the only one whose trust was being abused by the culprit and I now know from having seen the WhatsApp exchanges between Becky and Caroline that Becky was leaking information about a whole range of other people too.
“I thought whoever was doing this was probably betraying other people in this way too.”
She added: “There have been no leaks of posts from my account since.
“No doubt similar behaviour by Becky was also a real worry for many others too. I am glad I have put an end to it.”
In court on Friday, Mr Tomlinson suggested Mrs Rooney had “no evidence” to establish that Mrs Vardy leaked information from her personal Instagram account.
“I believe that Mrs Vardy knew that this was happening, whether it was Mrs Vardy herself or it was someone she’s given permission to,” Mrs Rooney said.
Mr Tomlinson replied that “you might believe that Derby County will win the premiership”, adding: “It’s not evidence that they are going to.”
“No it’s not,” she replied.
Mrs Rooney’s husband, former England footballer Wayne Rooney, is manager of the Derby County football team and was sat metres away from his wife during the hearing.
Before Mrs Rooney began her evidence on Friday afternoon, Mrs Vardy entered the witness box for the final day of her evidence, telling the court she felt “bullied and manipulated” while facing cross examination.
Mrs Vardy, who became emotional during her evidence, told the court that she “wanted to clear her name” and had brought the legal action for her children.
Earlier in the trial, TV personality Mrs Vardy was asked about a 2004 interview in the defunct tabloid about a sexual encounter she said she had with singer Peter Andre.
Mrs Rooney’s barrister David Sherborne showed what appeared to be an A3 printout of the article to Mrs Vardy in the witness box, before reading the headline: “Peter’s hung like a small chipolata, shaved, slobbery, lasts five minutes.”
However, Mrs Vardy previously said that she was “forced into a situation by my ex-husband” to do the interview.
On Friday, Mrs Vardy was asked questions by her barrister, Hugh Tomlinson QC, about the article.
Mr Tomlinson asked: “Looking back now all these years, nearly 20 years since, can you remember whether the things presented in the article were things you actually said?”
Mrs Vardy replied: “There’s a lot of things in there that did not come out of my mouth that were misrepresented in the circumstances around that article I’m deeply sorry for.
“It’s shameful reading that, and one of my biggest regrets.”
Mrs Rooney is defending the libel claim brought by Mrs Vardy on the basis of truth and public interest.
The libel battle comes after Mrs Rooney publicly claimed that an account behind three fake stories in The Sun that she had posted on her personal Instagram account 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.”