Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooneys opening arguments: from PRs confession to threats and abuse

Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney's legal representatives have laid out their opening arguments to the High Court as the libel trial between the pair has begun.

Jamie Vardy's wife Rebekah, 40, is suing 36 year old Coleen for libel after Wayne Rooney's wife accused her Instagram account of leaking stories to the press.

Rebekah is also seeking an injunction to prevent Coleen from repeating the claims in a trial which is set to last seven days.

The pair previously attempted to settle outside of court, but were unable to. Rebekah's barrister Hugh Tomlinson QC laid out her skeleton argument to The Honourable Mrs Justice Steyne, he claimed Rebekah "had no choice" but to legally pursue the matter.

Rebekah's barrister Mr Tomlinson said in written arguments she had "no choice but to bring this libel action to establish her innocence and vindicate her reputation".

The written submission from Mr Tomlinson on behalf of Rebekah read: "The allegation in the post was and remains false: Mrs Vardy had not leaked information about Mrs Rooney or her friends and family to the Sun newspaper from her private Instagram account.

“Mrs Rooney did not have the ‘irrefutable’ evidence that she claimed to have had: her so-called ‘careful investigation’ was nothing of the sort.

“If anyone had been leaking information from Mrs Rooney’s private Instagram this was not done with Mrs Vardy’s knowledge or approval.”

He continued: “Mrs Vardy made strenuous but unsuccessful attempts to settle the case but the post was not taken down.

“As result, Mrs Vardy had no choice but to bring this libel action to establish her innocence and vindicate her reputation."

Here, OK! takes a look at the pair's skeleton arguments…

'Abuse and threats'

Rebekah's barrister has claimed she and her family have been subjected to "abuse and threats" following on from Coleen's Instagram post, which she shared in October 2019.

She has said she has been "jeered and heckled" at football matches and was "the butt of endless jokes and further accusations".

Pregnant Rebekah's reputation was very seriously damaged' after 'deeply upsetting' post

Further in the skeleton argument for Rebekah, Mr Tomlinson QC, said: "Although Mrs Rooney knew that Mrs Vardy was heavily pregnant she did not give her any advance notice that the Post was going to published.

"She chose instead to publicly reveal Mrs Vardy as the culprit in a dramatic post crafted in the style of a 'whodunnit'.

"Mrs Vardy made strenuous but unsuccessful attempts to settle the case but the Post was not taken down.

"As result, Mrs Vardy had no choice but to bring this libel action to establish her innocence and vindicate her reputation.

"Her reputation has been very seriously damaged by this false and defamatory allegation which was designed to achieve maximum impact and succeeded in its aim.

"The information alleged to have been leaked was, as Mrs Rooney admitted at the hearing on 29 April 2022, low value gossip.

"Nevertheless, the impact of the Post on Mrs Vardy was far from trivial. It has – as was inevitable given Mrs Rooney’s public profile and the sensational nature of the allegation made – been republished in the national media, and on social media on many thousands of occasions, to many millions of readers.

"Although the media, as they are entitled to do, have turned this case into an entertainment it is not, from Mrs Vardy’s point of view, entertaining.

"It has been, and continues to be, deeply upsetting in circumstances where she was not the person who leaked information about Mrs Rooney. Mrs Vardy needs to clear her name in order to ever be given a chance to move on from this horrendous episode.

"Mrs Rooney accepts that her Post is defamatory of Mrs Vardy.

"Remarkably, she continues to deny that the Post caused 'serious harm' to Mrs Vardy’s reputation.

"But there can be no serious doubt about this: it is obvious that the Post it caused such harm. It is also obvious that Mrs Vardy has suffered, and continues to suffer, enormous distress and upset as a result of its publication."

Rebekah Vardy's agent Caroline Watt given access to her public Instagram account in 2017

Mr Tomlinson explained in his opening skeleton argument how Rebekah gave her PR at the time Caroline Watt access to her Instagram account when she went into I'm A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! in 2017.

He argued that Caroline was "authorised to uploaded public posts and stories on Mrs Vardy's behalf", which Coleen "accepts it is normal practice to allow an agent such access".

Mr Tomlinson QC added that Caroline "continued to have access to Mrs Vardy's Instagram account after Mrs Vardy came out of I'm A Celebrity" and by then Caroline and Rebekah had "formed a friendship" and so Mrs Vardy "trusted her both as her agent and her friend".

Coleen's 'first warning shot'

According to Rebekah's barrister Mr Tomlinson, Coleen is said to have uploaded posts in October 2017 on her private Instagram account.

She alleged the posts were leaked to the press, including "two posts on her private Instagram which contained birthday messages to Mr Rooney from their children" as well as "two about Halloween and one of Mr Rooney in bed with their chidlren wearing spotted pyjamas in support of Alder Hey Children's Hospital".

And an article was later published by The Sun claiming Wayne and Coleen were "back on" and the article "refers to the Pyjamas Post and appears to refer to the Halloween Posts".

Later that day, Coleen "published what she described as a First Warning Shot on her private Instagram account".

In a series of uploads, Coleen allegedly wrote: "The GRASS strikes again!" And added the picture she had posted had appeared in "that HORRIBLE newspaper".

However, Hugh Tomlinson QC added in his skeleton argument that Coleen posted another message on her private Instagram account later that day, and "explained that 'it was not a bad thing' that the press knew the picture was on her private Instagram account".

Mr Tomlinson claimed Coleen later added in another message that she had "been through her followers and could not pinpoint anyone".

Rebekah's agent's 'confession'

Hugh Tomlinson QC added how the next alleged leak Coleen claims came from her private Instagram account is said to be based on stories posted in January 2019.

Coleen had shared a post and story "referring to the 'half a Honda'". And later that month added a picture showing "damage to one side of her car with the words 'RIP half a Honda'."

Mr Tomlinson then claimed that Rebekah's PR Caroline Watt "sent a WhatsApp message to Mrs Vardy querying what she had said the previous day about Mrs Rooney having crashed her Honda.

"Mrs Vardy explained that it was a picture of the 'side of the car knackered'".

Mr Tomlinson then alleged Mrs Watt "messaged Mrs Vardy to say that the Sun journalist, Mr Halls, was trying to do a story on Mrs Rooney crashing her car but 'her PR wouldn’t reply'."

And it's claimed Mrs Watt said: "I’ve told him I am 100% confident that it happened but don’t know how."

Mr Tomlinson QC alleged that later that day, Mrs Watt "sent an image to Rebekah asking whether it was the same as the damage that Mrs Rooney had posted and Mrs Vardy says 'Yeah, that’s it! Different pic though'."

Later an article was published by The Sun claiming Mrs Rooney “narrowly escaped injury” in a “nasty accident which happened close to where she lives with her husband”.

Mrs Rooney uploaded a screenshot of the article, according to Hugh Tomlinson QC, and wrote the caption: "Someone on here is selling stories again to this scum of a paper", to her Private Instagram account.

Rebekah later asked her PR if she had seen Mrs Rooney's Twitter as Coleen had "posted on Twitter claiming the article was wrong and someone was giving stories to the Sun."

Mr Tomlinson then alleged Mrs Watt looked and said: "'Such a victim. Poor Coleen,' before saying 'And it wasn’t someone she trusted. It was me'."

Coleen's 'early warnings'

Coleen Rooney's barrister David Sherborne explained in his skeleton argument the public Instagram post accusing Rebekah Vardy "followed several earlier warnings which the Defendant had been forced to post publicly, as well as privately, as a result of information from her private social media accounts being leaked to The Sun and appeared as stories in that newspaper".

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Coleen's 'sting operation posts'

After "suffering a number of leaks of her private Instagram account", Mr Sherborne claims Coleen "published a number of stories on her Private Instagram account in order to discover where the leak was coming from".

He claimed that three posts about gender selection in Mexico, about Coleen returning to TV presenter and a story about the basement flooding in Coleen's new home were "all false: deliberate plants to uncover the leaker". And, "all three stories appeared in The Sun".

Mr Sherborne added: "Given her suspicions about the identity of the source of these leaks by that time, the defendant had deliberately limited the accessibility to this one private account, and the Sting Operation stories, to just one of her followers, namely the Claimant’s account, “@beckyvardy”.

"The fact that these Sting Operation stories also then appeared in The Sun, after access to her private account was limited to just the @beckyvardy account, is the reason why the Defendant published the Post which is the subject of this claim.

"She waited until after the third one had appeared in this newspaper so that she had more than one post to rely on as confirming her suspicion."

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