Coleen Rooney has said she was left “fuming” when private details of her reconciliation with her husband Wayne were fed to the media, leading her to carry out a sophisticated sting operation which she said identified Rebekah Vardy as the source of the leaks.
s Rooney told the High Court in London that a now-famous social media post in which she accused Ms Vardy’s Instagram account of being behind a series of leaked stories was her “last resort” as she tried to catch the person responsible “red-handed”.
In what has become the battle royal of the Wags (footballers’ wives and girlfriends), Ms Vardy, the wife of Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy, is now suing Ms Rooney for libel over her claims that she planted stories in the press taken from Ms Rooney’s private Instagram account.
Ms Rooney said details about a reconciliation with her husband Wayne, the former England and Manchester United player, were leaked to The Sun in 2017. These included facts about her return to the family home she shared with Rooney after spending time at her parents’ house, following a turbulent spell in their marriage.
Although she posted on her public social media accounts a photograph of her and her children in matching pyjamas on the family bed, Ms Rooney (36) said details mentioned only on her private account were also leaked. She told the court the “pyjama post” was made when she was “going through a difficult time in my marriage” and had upset her as she felt cornered by the revelations.
“I didn’t know how my marriage was going to work out at the time. Me and Wayne was trying to figure out our relationship, and see how things were going,” she said.
Ms Rooney said that a photograph of damage to her Honda car after it was scraped by a lorry in Washington DC in January 2019 had also been leaked from her private Instagram account.
These and other leaks led her to set up a sting operation to trap the person responsible, during which Ms Rooney planted deliberately false stories to see if they were passed on to the press.
Speaking from the witness stand, Ms Rooney said: “It could have only come from my private Instagram account.
“The fact The Sun reported all this stuff that had happened and was untrue gave me the anger to put it out to the public that someone was giving out my private information. I was angry. I was fuming.”
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Ms Rooney said that after suspecting Ms Vardy of leaking stories she had published two warning posts and temporarily removed her from her account, “but nothing had worked”.
Describing her plan, Ms Rooney said in her witness statement: “I wanted to catch the account responsible ‘red-handed’, as it were, and so I came up with a plan.”
She added: “I decided that I would invent and fabricate a story, limit accessibility in such a way so that it was only Becky’s [Ms Vardy] Instagram account that could view it, upload it to Instagram via Instagram Stories for a period of 24 hours so that it was only ‘seen by’ Becky’s Instagram account and then I would wait and see whether my fabricated, invented story, which had only been seen by Becky’s Instagram account, appeared in The Sun.”
After the sting operation, Ms Rooney said she was convinced that Ms Vardy’s account was the origin of the leaks.
In October 2019, she shared the now-viral post in which she accused Ms Vardy (40) of leaking “false stories” about her private life to the press.
In the post on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, she wrote: “I have saved and screen-shotted all the original stories which clearly show just one person has viewed them. It’s………. Rebekah Vardy’s account.”
Ms Rooney told the court: “What I thought was that Rebekah herself or someone else was doing it and Rebekah knew about it. I was making accusations against her account.”
Ms Rooney’s husband Wayne Rooney is manager of the Derby County football team and was sitting near his wife during the hearing.
Before Ms Rooney began her evidence yesterday afternoon, Ms Vardy entered the witness box for the final day of her evidence, telling the court she felt “bullied and manipulated” while facing cross-examination.
Ms Vardy, who became emotional during her evidence, told the court that she “wanted to clear her name” and had brought the legal action for her children.
Earlier in the trial, Ms Vardy was asked about a 2004 interview in the defunct tabloid The News of the World about a sexual encounter she said she had with singer Peter Andre.
Ms Rooney’s barrister David Sherborne showed what appeared to be an A3 printout of the article to Ms Vardy in the witness box, before reading the headline: “Peter’s hung like a small chipolata, shaved, slobbery, lasts five minutes.”
However, Ms Vardy previously said that she was “forced into a situation by my ex-husband” to do the interview.
Yesterday, Ms Vardy was asked questions by her barrister, Hugh Tomlinson QC, about the article.
Mr Tomlinson asked: “Looking back now all these years, nearly 20 years since, can you remember whether the things presented in the article were things you actually said?”
Ms Vardy replied: “There’s a lot of things in there that did not come out of my mouth that were misrepresented in the circumstances around that article I’m deeply sorry for.
“It’s shameful reading that, and one of my biggest regrets.”
The trial continues.
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