Rebekah Vardy’s family faced ‘horrific abuse and threats’ over Coleen Rooney’s claims, trial told

Pregnant wife of Leicester striker told her baby should be ‘put in an incinerator’ after post went viral

<p>Rebekah Vardy’s family received “horrific abuse and threats” over claims she leaked private information about Coleen Rooney to the press, libel trial hears</p>

Rebekah Vardy’s family received “horrific abuse and threats” over claims she leaked private information about Coleen Rooney to the press, libel trial hears

Rebekah Vardy’s family received “horrific abuse and threats” over claims she leaked private information about Coleen Rooney to the press, the libel trial between the pair has heard.

Hugh Tomlinson QC, representing Ms Vardy, told the High Court she and her family were subjected to “abuse and threats of a really horrific nature” following Ms Rooney’s viral post on 9 October 2019.

He said Ms Vardy, then seven months pregnant, was “jeered and heckled” at football matches and received hateful comments, including one which said she was an “evil rat-faced b****” who “deserved to die” and another that said her baby should be “put in an incinerator”.

The high-profile trial centres on a public post published on Ms Rooney’s Instagram, Twitter and Facebook accounts which accused the fellow footballer’s wife of leaking stories about her to The Sun newspaper.

The wife of ex-England star Wayne Rooney was dubbed “Wagatha Christie” when she made the allegations, which she claimed had followed a months-long “sting operation”.

Ms Vardy, who is married to Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy, denies the accusations and is suing Ms Rooney for libel.

Ms Vardy’s barrister told the court the allegations were “false” and had impacted her profoundly.

“She needs to be able to clear her name through this court so she can move on from this,” he said.

Ms Rooney turned up to the first day of the trial with her husband, while Ms Vardy was flanked by her lawyers.

The two women sat feet apart on the front bench of the courtroom throughout proceedings.

Ms Vardy’s barrister has said she did not “authorise, condone or approve” the alleged leaking of Ms Rooney’s information and that she “simply doesn’t know” whether or not her friend and agent Caroline Watt was responsible.

Coleen Rooney was accompanied by her footballer husband Wayne Rooney for the first day of Rebekah Vardy’s High Court libel trial

He told the court: “She is no longer confident, she can’t say Ms Watt didn’t do it, she simply doesn’t know.

“She is not able to say of her friend ‘she was the leaker’. She doesn’t know what Ms Watt was doing without her knowledge, all she can tell the court is what she did.”

Ms Watt recently withdrew a witness statement from the trial in which she said she had not leaked stories, the court was told.

Ms Watt also withdrew a waiver that might have allowed Sun journalists to say whether or not she was the source.

Mr Tomlinson said until these developments “Mrs Vardy believed that Ms Watt wasn’t the source of the leaks” but now “doesn’t know what to think”.

The High Court was told Ms Vardy “has no personal knowledge” of an incident where her agent’s phone fell into the North Sea after a court ordered it should be searched as part of the libel case.

The court previously heard Ms Watt’s phone fell into the sea after a boat she was on hit a wave before further information could be extracted from it in August 2021.

Ms Rooney’s barrister claimed Ms Vardy deleted all messages exchanged between her and Ms Watt between 15 October 2019 and 25 July 2020, which therefore cannot be used as evidence.

David Sherborne argued his client had proved her case despite Ms Vardy and Ms Watt “deliberately” destroying evidence.

He said in written submissions: “The defendant has shown that, despite the deliberate destruction of evidence by the claimant and Ms Watt, despite obstruction and obfuscation to try to hide relevant documents, and despite the lies of both the claimant and Ms Watt, it is clear, at least on the balance of probabilities, which is all that is necessary, that the leaks arose from the habitual and established practice of the claimant: leaking information about those she knew via Ms Watt to The Sun and others.”

Mr Sherborne said the libel case between the two footballers’ wives was “essentially about betrayal”.

He added in written submissions: “The central question that the court needs to decide now seems to be whether: it is Coleen Rooney that was betrayed by Rebekah Vardy because she knew Caroline Watt, her PR and close confidante, was leaking Mrs Rooney’s private information to The Sun and condoned this, as well as directly leaking information herself, or whether, instead, it is Mrs Vardy that was betrayed by Caroline Watt because she had leaked this information without Mrs Vardy knowing it and had lied to her by denying all along that she had leaked anything.”

The trial continues and is expected to last seven days.

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