Rebekah Vardy has denied “orchestrating” a photo of footballers’ wives and girlfriends at the 2018 World Cup, on the third day of her High Court libel trial against Coleen Rooney.
On Thursday, Mrs Vardy entered the witness box for the third time on what is expected to be the final day of her evidence in what has been dubbed the “Wagatha Christie” case.
In a viral social media post in October 2019, Mrs Rooney, 36, said she had carried out a “sting operation” and accused Mrs Vardy, 40, of leaking “false stories” about her private life to the press.
Mrs Vardy, who is married to Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy, denies leaking stories to the media and is suing her fellow footballer’s wife for libel, while Mrs Rooney is defending the claim on the basis her post was “substantially true”.
Continuing his questions on Thursday, Mrs Rooney’s barrister, David Sherborne, said Mrs Vardy had been “saved by the bell” after Wednesday’s hearing finished slightly early due to repeated alarms in a part of the Royal Courts of Justice.
Mrs Vardy was asked a number of questions about a photo taken of a group of England players’ wives and girlfriends while at a St Petersburg restaurant during the World Cup in Russia in 2018.
Mr Sherborne referred to a message exchange between Mrs Vardy and her agent, Caroline Watt, at the time, in which Ms Watt said she had “got a photographer sorted for tomorrow” and Mrs Vardy replied “OK”.
However, Mrs Vardy said Ms Watt had arranged for a photographer to take pictures of her as she left her hotel, but denied giving the photographer the location of either the hotel or a restaurant she went to the same evening with a group of the England team’s wives and girlfriends.
“I didn’t arrange the photograph outside of the restaurant,” she told the court.
She also said she was “happy” to be photographed leaving the hotel, but claimed that updates she sent to Ms Watt when plans changed throughout the evening were not because she was working with the agent to arrange a “pap shot” of the group as they left the restaurant.
During a further exchange with Mr Sherborne, Mrs Vardy again denied having orchestrated the photograph, adding: “If I had intentionally arranged the picture … I would quite happily admit that I had.”
She said that, by replying as she did to Ms Watt, she was “just trying to get her off my back actually and enjoy my evening, it had been quite a crazy few days”.
But Mr Sherborne later suggested: “You were perfectly happy for this staged photo to take place, perfectly happy for Caroline Watt to do the dirty as long as the dirt doesn’t come back on you.”
“Not true,” Mrs Vardy replied.
Mrs Vardy, in a blue and white dress and blazer, was watched throughout her evidence by Mrs Rooney, sitting beside her husband Wayne.
Mr Sherborne also asked Mrs Vardy about an exchange with her agent Ms Watt discussing an article about the wives and girlfriends of the England players at the 2018 tournament, which described them as having a “great time” and being in Russia to “back our boys”.
The barrister put it to Mrs Vardy that the Football Association (FA) were “worried” about the wives and girlfriends “drawing too much attention”, to which she said she could not comment on the FA’s position.
Referring to the article, she said: “If I’m honest, I can’t remember that at all.”
Mr Sherborne replied: “Well, I would much rather you were honest, because you are in a witness box under oath.”
He then suggested that, far from not wanting attention, Mrs Vardy was “trying to create attention” and that is why she had “stage-managed the photograph of the girls”, which Mrs Vardy denied.
Mrs Rooney is defending the libel claim on the basis of truth and public interest.
The court previously heard that both women have spent “hundreds of thousands of pounds” on the case so far, with the total costs of the case expected to be at least £2 million.
The libel battle comes after Mrs Rooney publicly claimed an account behind three fake stories she had posted on her personal Instagram account with The Sun newspaper was Mrs Vardy’s.
The fake stories Mrs Rooney planted on her Instagram during the sting operation featured her travelling to Mexico for a “gender selection” procedure, her planning to return to TV, and the basement flooding at her home.
In the post on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, she wrote: “I have saved and screenshotted all the original stories which clearly show just one person has viewed them.
“It’s ………. Rebekah Vardy’s account.”
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