Rebekah Vardy, 40, has lost her defamation case to Coleen Rooney, 36, after a dramatic trial. However, the trial judge pointed out that there was no need for the “vitriol” or “vile abuse” the media personality has been subjected to.
Rebekah has lost her High Court level battle she brought against Coleen Rooney over a viral social media post.
Mrs Justice Steyn said that Rebekah Vardy had faced “vile abuse” from members of the public following Coleen Rooney’s post.
She said: “Some members of the public have responded to the reveal post by subjecting Mrs Vardy to vile abuse, including messages wishing her, her family, and even her then-unborn baby, ill in the most awful terms.
“Nothing of which Mrs Vardy has been accused, nor any of the findings in this judgement, provide any justification or excuse for subjecting her or her family, or any other person involved in this case, to such vitriol.”
In her ruling, Mrs Justice Steyn said it was “likely” that Mrs Vardy’s agent at the time, Caroline Watt, “undertook the direct act” of passing the information to The Sun.
But she added: “Nonetheless, the evidence … clearly shows, in my view, that Mrs Vardy knew of and condoned this behaviour, actively engaging in it by directing Ms Watt to the private Instagram account, sending her screenshots of Mrs Rooney’s posts, drawing attention to items of potential interest to the press, and answering additional queries raised by the press via Ms Watt.
The judge added: “In my judgment, the conclusions that I have reached as to the extent to which the claimant engaged in disclosing to The Sun information to which she only had access as a permitted follower of an Instagram account which she knew, and Mrs Rooney repeatedly asserted, was private, suffice to show the single meaning is substantially true.”
Mrs Justice Steyn has found that Rebekah Vardy’s evidence in the trial was “manifestly inconsistent” with other evidence on “many occasions”.
In her judgement, she said: “It was evident that Mrs Vardy found the process of giving evidence stressful and, at times, distressing. I bear in mind when assessing her evidence the degree of stress she was naturally feeling, given the high-profile nature of the trial, the abuse that she has suffered since the reveal post was published, and the length of time she was in the witness box.”
The judge added: “Nevertheless, I find that it is, unfortunately, necessary to treat Mrs Vardy’s evidence with very considerable caution.
“There were many occasions when her evidence was manifestly inconsistent with the contemporaneous documentary evidence, e.g. in relation to the World Cup 2018 and the photoshopped pictures, and others where she was evasive.”
Mrs Justice Steyn continued: “Mrs Vardy was generally unwilling to make factual concessions, however implausible her evidence.
“This inevitably affects my overall view of her credibility, although I have borne in mind that untruthful evidence may be given to mask guilt or to fortify innocence.”
Mrs Justice Steyn said there was “a degree of self-deception” on Rebekah Vardy’s part about her role in disclosing information.
She said: “Although significant parts of Mrs Vardy’s evidence were not credible, my assessment is that she is genuinely offended by the accusation made against her by Mrs (Coleen) Rooney in the reveal post.
“However, that is not because she was not involved in disclosing information from the private Instagram account: I have found that she was.
“Rather, her indignation at the accusation flows, in my judgment, from a combination of factors.
“Mrs Vardy’s part in disclosing information to The Sun was, it seems to me, unthinking rather than part of a considered and concerted business practice.
“Consequently, there has been a degree of self-deception on her part regarding the extent to which she was involved, as well as a degree of justified resentment at the exaggerated way in which her role has at times been presented during the litigation.”
Mrs Justice Steyn has said the likelihood that the loss of Caroline Watt’s phone was accidental was “slim” and that it was “likely” she deliberately dropped her phone into the sea.
Rebekah Vardy’s agent and friend said her phone fell into the North Sea while she was filming the Scottish coastline in August 2021.
In her judgment, the judge said that on August 4 2021, an order was made for Ms Watt’s phone to be inspected.
She said: “The timing is striking…the likelihood that the loss Ms Watt describes was accidental is slim.”
The judge continued: “It is likely that the WhatsApp chat between herself and Mrs Vardy, as well as exchanges with journalists, was available on Ms Watt’s phone when she was advised very shortly after the reveal post that such evidence must be preserved.”
Mrs Justice Steyn added: “In my judgment, it is likely that Ms Vardy deliberately deleted her WhatsApp chat with Ms Watt, and that Ms Watt deliberately dropped her phone in the sea.”