Olin Rooney has won his epic High Court battle with Rebecca Vardy after a judge upheld allegations he leaked ‘Wagatha Christie’ to the media.
Rooney, 36, sparked the WAG wars in 2019 with a bombshell allegation that Vardy, 40, was secretly providing The Sun with private social media news.
Rooney’s now-infamous post revealed that he had conducted a months-long investigation into the source of the leaks, suspecting that a friend or contact of his was responsible and concluding by saying: “It’s… …….Rebecca Verdi has an account.”
Vardy immediately launched a furious attack against the claim, insisting he never leaked the stories to the media and criticizing Rooney for going public with the accusation.
But in a devastating escalation of the row, Vardy sued for defamation, bringing damaging messages between him and agent Caroline Watt into the public domain.
In the High Court on Friday, Mrs Justice Steyn delivered her verdict on the blockbuster libel battle, concluding that Rooney was right to point the finger at Vardy.
He said Vardy was complicit in the leaking of the stories to The Sun, ruling: “It is likely that Ms Watt directly initiated the act… the sun.
“Nevertheless, the evidence analyzed above clearly shows, in my view, that Ms. Vardy knew about and condoned this behavior by directing Ms. Watt to (Rooney’s) private Instagram account. , became actively involved by sending screenshots of Ms. Rooney’s posts, drawing attention to items of potential interest to the press, and answering additional questions raised by Ms. Watt from the press.
Describing Rooney’s allegation as “substantially true”, the judge added: “The information disclosed was not deeply confidential, and could be described as casual, but sufficient to meet the sting of libel.” Doesn’t have to be secret or important.
“This was information obtained from private posts that Ms Rooney did not wish to make public.”
The feud between Rooney and Vardy, the wives of England strikers Wayne and Jamie, was secretly simmering at the start of 2019, when Rooney suspected a leak.
On her private Instagram account where only select friends and colleagues could see content, she would post personal updates about Wayne and his children.
Rooney saw the leaked information to The Sun newspaper and sent two warning shots to his followers, blaming “grass”.
She then launched a sting operation to nab the culprit, posting fake social media updates and whittling down her followers until only Vardi remained.
Bogus stories planted by Rooney – about the baby’s gender selection and the flooded basement – made headlines and Vardy was confirmed as the main suspect.
Rooney quickly attracted the nickname “Wagatha Christie” when his sleuthing was revealed and went viral in October 2019. He told the High Court: “It wasn’t difficult, anyone could do it”, but admitted the scandal had spiraled out of control.
“At the time of doing it, it was important, but I feel in public it’s been made bigger than it was,” she said.
Vardy’s denial at the time was adamant – she would never leak stories to the media and was not accused.
During the trial she likened Rooney to a “school bully” and broke down in tears as she described the online abuse she suffered while heavily pregnant.
But Vardy also faced questions about whether she had leaked information to the media about her husband’s team-mates Danny Drinkwater and Riyad Mahrez, as well as texts with Ms Watt telling Rooney to “attention”. “seeker” and “desperate”.
Vardy claimed she was “absolutely only joking” when she asked her agent to leak a story about a married TV star’s affair, but admitted she had drunk a drink of water. Drive had tried to give information to a journalist about the arrest, telling Ms Watt: “I want to pay. For this”.
In the judgement, Vardy was found to be involved in eight leaks about Rooney to The Sun.
She was also accused of staging paparazzi photos without getting permission from other England team WAGs.
When Rooney complained about the car crash story in the news, Ms Watt texted Vardy that the source of the leak “wasn’t someone she trusted. It was me”.
Vardy, whose case hinged on not knowing about the media leaks, told the court she was moved by a WhatsApp message from Gemma Collins who fell on Dancing On Ice.
The wealth of messages came despite an unusual sequence of events where phone and computer data were lost before being disclosed to Rooney’s legal team, and Ms Watt said she found her phone on the side of a boat and North Dropped into the sea.
Ms Watt ultimately did not give evidence at the trial on health grounds, with Rooney’s team accusing Vardy of “hiding” potentially incriminating evidence.
The judge said in his ruling that “the harm described by Miss Watt is unlikely”, and concluded that Vardy had deliberately deleted the messages.
The High Court trial attracted worldwide attention, as Colin and her football manager husband sat just feet from Vardy in the wood-panelled courtroom.
Singer Peter Andre was initially drawn into the storm, when Verdi was questioned about an old kiss-and-tell newspaper story in which he mocked the size of his “squeamish” manhood. .
There was also a spotlight within the England camp, when Wayne Rooney claimed he had given Jamie Vardy a chance to talk about his wife’s media antics during Euro 2016.
In response, Jamie Vardy released a statement calling Rooney’s evidence “nonsense”. But he stayed away from the witness box.
Colin Rooney said he had repeatedly tried to settle the contempt proceedings out of court but negotiations had failed. Following their defeat, Vardy could now face a multi-million pound cost bill.