Two years ago Coleen Rooney’s lawyers urged Rebekah Vardy to seek a mediated solution to her libel claim, warning that the “full public glare” of legal proceedings would not be an enjoyable experience.
Instead, Vardy chose to take the case to trial and – after three days in the witness box being cross-examined on highly personal matters – told the high court she felt “bullied” and “manipulated” by the process.
It’s not only the two footballers’ wives who have had their personal lives raked over as a result of the libel case – there has also been a litany of other people unwittingly dragged into the proceedings.
In 2004, a 22-year-old Vardy sold a kiss’n’tell story of a one-night-stand with Andre to the now defunct News of the World tabloid. Two decades later, Rooney’s lawyer read out the story in court as evidence that Vardy did not respect people’s privacy. In the process, Andre has had to deal with speculation about the size of his “chipolata” appendage reaching a new audience. Andre has said he has put up with being the “butt of all jokes” for more than 15 years and asked if people would laugh if the comments were about a woman.
When the Premier League footballer was arrested for drink-driving after crashing his Range Rover in 2019, it was front page news. But the story had faded from memory – until court disclosures revealed Vardy had attempted to pass details of the car crash to a journalist at the Sun. Vardy said she wanted to leak the story because she abhorred drink drivers – but the court heard how Vardy messaged her agent with the information, and added: “I want paying for this x”.
Riyad Mahrez and the 2017/18 Leicester City squad
The court heard allegations that Vardy discussed the Leicester City squad’s dislike of “on strike” player Mahrez with her agent. Rooney’s lawyers suggested Vardy gleaned the information about the state of the dressing room from her husband, the Leicester striker Jamie Vardy, and was then leaking it to the press. Vardy insisted she was just idly gossiping about how the players may feel and had “never discussed [with her husband] whether the lads were fuming”.
The journalists discussed by Vardy and her agent
The proceedings have been uncomfortable for some journalists who weren’t even involved in the stories that prompted the libel case – but who have nonetheless found themselves mentioned in court. At one point the high court heard Vardy discussed with her agent whether to leak a story to Sky Sports reporter Rob Dorsett before concluding: “I just don’t want it coming back to me”. In another, Vardy’s agent praised Sun journalist Amy Brookbanks because she “always writes nice stories, does whatever I ask her and gets stories changed that she hasn’t even written”.
Vardy’s former agent and close friend is the ever-present but never-seen character in the Wagatha Christie trial. It was Watt’s phone that was dropped over the side of a boat in the North Sea soon after a legal request was made to search it – and it is Watt who Vardy now suggests was unilaterally leaking stories from Rooney’s Instagram page to the Sun. After allegedly being “thrown under a bus” at the last minute by Vardy – and amid reports she had urged Vardy to drop the legal proceedings before trial – Vardy said that Watt is too ill to give evidence in the case.