Rebekah Vardy ‘appears to accept’ that her PR was the source of leaked stories about Coleen Rooney that were published in The sun newspaper, Ms Rooney’s lawyer claimed in the High Court.
Ms Rooney has accused Ms Vardy of leaking ‘false stories’ about her private life to the media in October 2019 after carrying out a months-long ‘undercover operation’.
The wife of former England star Wayne Rooney was dubbed ‘Wagatha Christie’ when she publicly claimed her fellow footballer’s wife shared fake stories she posted on her personal Instagram account with the newspaper.
Ms Vardy, who is married to Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy, denies the charges and is suing Ms Rooney for defamation.
Lawyers for Ms Rooney have previously claimed that Ms Vardy leaked information to The sun either directly or through her friend and agent Caroline Watt “acting on her instructions or with her conscious approval”.
On Friday, David Sherborne, on behalf of Ms Rooney, claimed Ms Vardy believed Ms Watt may have been the source of the stories in a new witness statement provided on Wednesday.
In written submissions, Mr Sherborne said Ms Vardy’s new statement “suggests that Ms Watt was the source of the leak, but claims that [Ms Vardy] ‘did not allow or tolerate it’.
“It now appears… that she too ‘believes’ Ms Watt is the source,” Mr Sherborne added.
The barrister continued: ‘The collapse of Ms Vardy’s case over the past day has been remarkable.
“Since the evening of April 27, 2022, in a sharp change of position from her case pleaded from the start, Ms Vardy now appears to accept Ms Rooney’s case: that Caroline Watt, Ms Vardy’s close friend and PR, was the conduit through which stories from the accused’s private Instagram account were leaked to The sun thanks to its access via Rebekah Vardy’s account.
Mr Sherborne told the court: ‘It has become undeniably clear that Ms Watt is the source and Ms Vardy, true to form, says: ‘It wasn’t me, I didn’t know and I didn’t know anything about this that was going on’.”
However, Hugh Tomlinson QC, for Ms Vardy, told the court that his client’s new witness statement contained ‘no change in the matter pleaded’.
He later added: “Mr. Sherborne may think this is an evil plot to deceive his client and the court.
“We just don’t know what the real position is in relation to Ms Watt.
“She doesn’t communicate with anyone.
“She’s not communicating with anyone on our side and we don’t know what her position is.”
In his written submissions, Mr Tomlinson said there had been ‘significant developments that have occurred’ since Ms Vardy made her first written statement, but did not explain what they were.
He continued: “These are all procedurally relevant issues and issues that the court will have to decide.
“It is appropriate that the court and the defendant have the plaintiff’s evidence on these new developments in another witness statement so that the plaintiff’s position is clarified.
“These developments are very recent.
“They were completely unexpected and beyond the provider’s control…it took time for her to process and review the new information.”
Ms Watt was mentioned at an earlier hearing after the High Court in London heard that WhatsApp messages between Ms Vardy and Ms Watt had been leaked.
Texts heard in court included Ms Vardy referring to someone, whose identity is disputed, as a ‘bad female dog’.
Ms Watt was due to give evidence at the upcoming trial, but the High Court was told she was ‘unfit’ to give oral evidence at a hearing earlier this month.
Friday’s hearing will include offers from Ms Rooney’s lawyers for information from News Group Newspapers, the publisher of The sun newspaper.
Mr Tomlinson said Ms Vardy ‘partly’ supported the request, adding: ‘We have nothing to hide’.
The hearing before Judge Steyn is due to end on Friday afternoon, with a judgment expected at a later date.