Rebekah Vardy has sensationally blamed her agent for leaking stories about Coleen Rooney in a dramatic development to the ‘Wagatha Christie’ libel battle, the High Court heard today.
In a document submitted to the court, Mrs Rooney’s legal team claimed Mrs Vardy’s case had ‘collapsed’ after an ‘abrupt change of position to her pleaded case’ following a second statement made by her in which she alleged that her agent and close friend Caroline Watt had leaked stories The Sun.
Mrs Vardy, 40, is suing Mrs Rooney, 35, for libel after being accused by her of leaking ‘false stories’ about the Rooneys in October 2019.
She claimed to have uncovered the culprit following a social media sting operation and publicly named her fellow WAG, while earning the nickname ‘Wagatha Christie.’
As their legal battle raged, it was also argued that Ms Watt had acted as a ‘conduit’, which she and Mrs Vardy vehemently denied.
The document compiled by Mrs Rooney’s lawyers David Sherborne and Ben Hamer, and seen by the Hight Court today, states: ‘The collapse of Mrs Vardy’s case over the last day has been remarkable.
‘As of the evening of 27 April 2022, in an abrupt change of position to her pleaded case since the outset, Mrs Vardy appears now to accept Mrs Rooney’s case: that Caroline Watt, Mrs Vardy’s close friend and PR, was the conduit by which stories from the Defendant’s Private Instagram Account were leaked to The Sun through her access via Rebekah Vardy’s account (@beckyvardy).’
It adds: ‘It is only now-over two weeks later and on the eve of trial-that Mrs Vardy has been forced to come clean.’
Rebekah Vardy and her agent Caroline Watt at the National Television Awards at London’s O2 Arena on January 19, 2019
Mrs Vardy, 40, is suing Mrs Rooney, 35, (pictured) for libel after being accused by her of leaking ‘false stories’ about the Rooneys in October 2019
The document continues: ‘The Claimant (Mrs Vardy) has since revealed in her latest witness statement that she knew (on her case) that Ms Watt was likely the source of the leaks on 12 April 2022, the day before the PTR (pre-trial review).
‘On the Defendant’s case, she has always known: the Claimant was complicit in Ms Watt’s activities. Complicit in the sharing of private information with Ms Watt; complicit in it being passed on to The Sun and the press; and complicit in covering up her and Ms Watt’s involvement if it became ‘undeniably obvious.’
It argues that Mrs Vardy has ‘condoned, authorised, approved and directed such disclosures by Ms Watt.’
Mrs Vardy’s legal team have asked Mrs Justice Steyn to impose a reporting restriction order on her new statement so that its full contents cannot be revealed.
In a document submitted to the court, her lawyers argue: ‘There have been important developments that have occurred since the Claimant’s First Witness Statement was filed and served. These are set out in the Claimant’s Second Witness Statement.
‘These developments are very recent. They were completely unexpected and outside the Claimant’s control.
As the Claimant explains in her evidence, it has taken her time to process and consider the new information.’
It adds: ‘As the Second Witness Statements makes clear the Claimant continues to be concerned about Ms Watt’s apparently fragile state of health and it may be that the Court would wish to make orders restricting the publication of the contents of this statement in order to protect Ms Watt’s position.’
The court was also told that Mrs Vardy and Ms Watt had both signed legal waivers, which would have allowed three Sun journalists who are due to give evidence at the trial, to name their source for their stories.
But the court documents show that Ms Watt has now removed her waiver, which would have allowed her to be named in court.
Mrs Rooney’s lawyers maintained: ‘The Court can safely infer that the reason Ms Watt withdrew such a waiver was because she herself was the conduit by which leaks were transmitted to The Sun and she knew that the journalists would say that if they came to give evidence, despite the terms of the witness summaries served by Mrs Vardy.’
Mrs Vardy and Mrs Rooney watching England play Wales at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis in Lens, France, during the 2016 Euros
In written submissions, Mr Sherborne said that Mrs Vardy’s new statement ‘suggests Ms Watt was the source of the leak but claims that (Mrs Vardy) ‘did not authorise or condone her”.
‘It now appears…that she too ‘believes’ that Ms Watt is the source,’ Mr Sherborne added.
The barrister continued: ‘The collapse of Mrs Vardy’s case over the last day has been remarkable.
Who is Caroline Watt? Ex-Virgin Atlantic hostess credited with boosting Rebekah’s profile
Caroline Watt is a former Virgin Atlantic air hostess who has been Rebekah Vardy’s agent for the past seven years, helping to build her profile in the national media. Reports that she no longer represents her following the current controversy engulfing the two have been dismissed as inaccurate with Ms Watt remaining close to Mrs Vardy both professionally and personally.
Ms Watt, 39, is married to former footballer Steve Watt, who played briefly for Chelsea, making one Premier League appearance for two minutes in 2005 and Swansea City. He is currently manager of Kent non-league side Hythe Town and they have two children.
After leaving the airline industry, Ms Watt began working as an agent in the world of entertainment, quickly developing a reputation for her communication skills and ability to network. She was formerly employed by talent agency The Frontrow Partnership but left in 2019 to go it alone and took her main client and close friend, Mrs Vardy with her.
Ms Watt has been credited with building Mrs Vardy’s public profile by ensuring that she regularly featured in the national media and also brokered the deal for her to appear on the hit reality TV show I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! in 2018. Ms Watt started representing the high-profile WAG in 2015, when her husband, Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy shot to fame.
She is a regular visitor to the Vardy’s Lincolnshire home and also socialises with Mrs Vardy, attending glitzy parties and bars. Her other clients include the former Page 3 girl Nicola McLean but it is Mrs Vardy that has been the biggest asset in her career as an agent.
‘As of the evening of April 27 2022, in an abrupt change of position to her pleaded case since the outset, Mrs Vardy appears now to accept Mrs Rooney’s case: that Caroline Watt, Mrs Vardy’s close friend and PR, was the conduit by which stories from the defendant’s private Instagram account were leaked to The Sun through her access via Rebekah Vardy’s account.’
Mr Sherborne told the court: ‘It has become undeniably obvious that Ms Watt is the source and Mrs Vardy, true to form says ‘it wasn’t me, I didn’t realise and I didn’t know anything about what was going on’.’
He added that Mrs Vardy ‘says ‘how awful it is to be betrayed’… That is exactly what Mrs Rooney would say, that she has been betrayed by someone’.
However, Hugh Tomlinson QC, for Mrs Vardy, told the court that his client’s new witness statement did not contain ‘any change whatever in the pleaded case’.
He later said: ‘We simply don’t know what the true position is in relation to Ms Watt.
‘She’s not communicating with anybody.
‘She’s not communicating with anybody on our side and we don’t know what her position is.’
In his written arguments, Mr Tomlinson said there had ‘been important developments that have occurred’ since Mrs Vardy gave her first written statement, but did not explain what they were.
He continued: ‘These are all matters that are relevant to the proceedings and the issues that the court will need to determine.
‘It is appropriate for the court and the defendant to have the claimant’s evidence on these new developments in a further witness statement so that the claimant’s position is made clear.
‘These developments are very recent.
‘They were completely unexpected and outside the claimant’s control…it has taken her time to process and consider the new information.’
Ms Watt was referred to at an earlier hearing after the High Court in London heard that WhatsApp messages between Mrs Vardy and Ms Watt had been disclosed.
Texts heard in court included Mrs Vardy referring to someone, whose identity is disputed, as a ‘nasty bitch’.
The court also previously heard that Ms Watt’s phone had ‘regrettably’ fallen into the North Sea before further information could be extracted from it for the case.
Ms Watt had been expected to give evidence at the upcoming trial, however, the High Court was told she was ‘not fit’ to give oral evidence at a hearing earlier this month.
Friday’s hearing will include bids from Mrs Rooney’s lawyers for information from News Group Newspapers, the publisher of The Sun newspaper.
Mr Tomlinson said that Mrs Vardy supported this request ‘in part’, adding: ‘We have nothing to hide.’
The explosive trial is to start on May 9.
Vardy (left, with her husband Jamie) is suing Coleen Rooney (right, with husband Wayne Rooney) for libel