Coleen Rooney has said Rebekah Vardy’s private WhatsApp messages were “just evil”, as she finished giving evidence in the “Wagatha Christie” libel trial.
The court has previously heard that Vardy and her agent Caroline Watt had lengthy WhatsApp exchanges about Rooney’s personal life, in which Rooney was allegedly branded a “nasty bitch” and a “cunt”.
Rooney told the high court she spent months posting fake Instagram stories and restricting their audience to just Vardy’s account, in an effort to work out who was passing stories about her private life to the tabloid newspaper.
She said did not inform anyone – including her husband, Wayne – that she was conducting a months-long sting operation into who was leaking stories from a private Instagram account to the Sun.
Rooney said she stayed quiet because she did not want to suggest Vardy was leaking stories to the paper without being certain: “I don’t like to do something if I’m not 100% sure myself. I wouldn’t mention it to someone with the smallest little bit of doubt.”
“One thing I don’t like to do is put my troubles or worries on anyone else,” she said. “I don’t like to put pressures on anyone. I try to deal with things in silence myself. That’s something I’ve always done.”
Rooney said Vardy had told a “lot of lies” during the legal proceedings and insisted she only made the public accusation that Vardy was the leaker as a last resort to try to finally stop stories about her private life appearing in the newspaper.
Vardy denies being responsible for the leaks and is suing Rooney for libel.
Rooney concluded that Vardy’s account was responsible after another story apparently sourced to her private Instagram appeared in the Sun in October 2019. She then wrote her post accusing Vardy in longhand with a pen and notepad, before sending it to her brother to format for uploading to the internet.
Hugh Tomlinson QC, for Vardy, undertook textual analysis of Rooney’s central accusation that “It’s……… Rebekah Vardy’s account” that did the leaking.
He said Rooney’s entire public accusation against Vardy had been written in the style of a “whodunnit” with a dramatic reveal emphasised by the large number of dots, a style decision he suggested was designed to inflict maximum damage.
Rooney insisted that she often writes messages in that style: “I use dots a lot … I have dots in a lot of conversations.”
Vardy’s legal team have repeatedly criticised Rooney’s failure to follow standard journalistic practice, such as requesting a comment from Vardy before publishing her accusation.
Rooney said she decided not to go to Vardy before posting the accusation in public: “I know it sounds tough – but at the time I didn’t think she would tell the truth even if I confronted her.”
She also feared Vardy would try to brief friendly journalists if she had advance warning: “I thought if I did approach her she might twist it and she might say it wasn’t her, cover up somehow, and then not be trustful. So I didn’t give her opportunity.”
Rooney said her suspicions were raised further when she briefly blocked Vardy from the private Instagram account in early 2019 and Vardy messaged to complain about the decision.
Rooney said she would not have been that concerned if someone had blocked her: “I’d probably think, ‘oh well I’m not on their account any more’. I wouldn’t be that bothered.”
At one point the court heard an extensive discussion of whether it is correct that photographs uploaded directly to Instagram stories are automatically saved as a copy on an iPhone’s camera roll.
Rooney told the court she found the entire “Wagatha Christie” label baffling and regularly monitored her own press coverage: “I do Google News and put my name in and read any relevant articles that come up.”
She said the WhatsApp messages involving Vardy and her agent that had been disclosed to the court were “just evil and uncalled for, speaking about something you don’t know”.
Rooney insisted anyone could have have carried out her sting operation and it did not take much technical knowhow: “It wasn’t hard. Anyone could do it. It worked for me and I found out which account was doing it at the end of it.”
The trial continues.