Wagatha Christie trial – live updates
Hugh Tomlinson also said Coleen Rooney – who is being sued for blaming leaks from her Instagram on Ms Vardy’s account – should pay a “substantial award of damages” to his client for “very serious libel”.
Neither Ms Rooney nor her husband, former England captain Wayne Rooney, were at the High Court for the closing remarks on the last day, with Ms Rooney’s lawyer saying they were on a trip with their children.
David Sherborne also said Ms Rooney stood by her Wagatha Christie post “more than ever” at the end of the trial.
This 2019 social media post is at the heart of the trial. In it, Ms Rooney detailed a “sting” operation to try and work out how information from her private Instagram was getting into the hands of The Sun.
She blamed it on Ms Vardy’s account. Ms Vardy denies the allegations and is suing Ms Rooney for libel. Ms Justice Steyn has now retired to consider her judgement in the case.
Top moments from the High Court trial
The lights are out in court 13 and it is now down to Ms Justice Steyn, veteran of cases on Guantanamo Bay and Saudi arms deals, to decide whether it was in fact………Rebekah Vardy, who leaked Coleen Rooney’s private information to The Sun.
Ms Vardy, 39, sued Ms Rooney for defamation after Ms Rooney publicly accused her account of being the source of stories in the tabloid press. The seven-day trial wrapped up on Thursday with closing speeches from both sides. There is now a wait of possibly months before the judge, Ms Justice Steyn, releases her judgement.
Here are the top moments from the High Court trial:
From Peter Andre’s chipolata, to Davy Jones and pigeon Coleen, all the blockbuster moments at the High Court
Justice Steyn will reserve judgement
That’s a wrap on the Rebekah Vardy vs Coleen Rooney libel trial. Both sides’ lawyers have finished giving their closing speeches and it is now down to Ms Justice Steyn to give her judgement.
She has reserved judgement, meaning it may be many months before we get her conclusion.
‘It’s not reasonable to just fire off a post’
Mr Tomlinson has said that “it’s not reasonable to just fire off a post” like Coleen Rooney did when she posted her ‘Wagatha Christie’ reveal.
“One sees from the way that she did it she was obviously very cross,” Mr Tomlinson said.
Referring to Ms Rooney’s reveal post, he said: “She decided that this was something that she was going to do, she had long suspected Mrs Vardy, she had gone through her long process of posting fake posts… she thought she got one hit, which actually turned out to be wrong, and then she got a second hit”.
He said “the tone was, as your ladyship knows, was one of ‘the whodunnit’.”
“She must have foreseen that this was going to have a big impact,” he argued.
“It had an enormous impact and we say that it is unreasonable that she did it in the manner that she did.”
Ms Vardy and her agent were ‘just gossiping’, says lawyer
Hugh Tomlinson QC said that Rebekah Vardy and her agent Caroline Watt occasionally “used the language of leaking”.
He told the court: “The position is clear, really. From time to time, Mrs Vardy and Ms Watt used the language of leaking.
“Your ladyship has to decide what they meant by that. We say in some cases it is just loose language that isn’t really about leaking at all.”
He added: “What actually is happening is that they are gossiping. They are talking about passing on pieces of gossip to the newspapers.”
Ms Vardy’s agent ‘may have leaked information from time to time’, says lawyer
Mr Tomlinson is again talking about Rebekah Vardy’s agent Ms Watt, saying: “Someone who was in the PR business, Ms Watt, may well have from time to time tried to leak bits of information that she had discovered from the private information.”
Talking about Ms Rooney’s case, Mr Tomlinson said: “The whole emphasis that it is Mrs Vardy who is close to the Sun, was a misdirection, we were looking in the wrong place.
He then moved on to suggest Ms Watt, saying: Of course Ms Watt had a close relationship with the Sun, that’s her job.
“Ms Watt, yes, was clearly interested in providing stories to the Sun,” Mr Tomlinson said.
“Did Ms Watt from time to time go beyond what she was authorised to do?” he asked the court.
Vardy wants to be ‘vindicated’ in trial and brought it to court to ‘move on with her life’
Hugh Tomlinson QC told the court that Ms Vardy wanted to be “vindicated” that she was not the person who leaked Ms Rooney’s private information.
He highlighted the “negative impact” the case had had on Ms Vardy, adding: “The media is full of jokes about this case.”
“This is a case about Mrs Vardy and the way that she has been treated by thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of people on social media. She has been subjected to abuse that goes on to this day,” Mr Tomlinson said.
He added that Ms Vardy had continued to receive abusive messages during the trial at the High Court.
“This is about her trying to do something about that so she can move on with her life,” Mr Tomlinson said.
‘The obvious suspect is Caroline Watt,’ Ms Vardy’s lawyer said
Ms Vardy’s lawyer Hugh Tomlinson has told the court that “the obvious suspect is Caroline Watt”.
He argued that “the case against Mrs Vardy only works if it can be shown that” she either leaked the stories herself or knew about it.
Speaking about the leaking of Ms Rooney’s gender selection post in Mexico, Mr Tomlinson said: “I have to conceed that the obvious suspect in relation to this is Ms Watt. That’s not the issue – it’s whether Ms Vardy approved it… we say the evidence just doesn’t go there.”
‘We don’t know the truth of Ms Watt’s position’
Mr Tomlinson raised the issue of Ms Vardy’s agent Caroline Watt losing her phone in the North Sea, claiming that Ms Rooney’s lawyer David Sherborne had had “a lot of entertainment with this point”.
“It’s not alleged either that Mrs Vardy pushed the phone into the North Sea or indeed that she had anything to do with it at all,” Mr Tomlinson said.
“The suggestion that somehow this is an aspect of the conspiracy to delete evidence, we say, is misconceived.
“We don’t know the truth of Ms Watt’s position.
“We have no idea as to whether this is a genuine accidental loss of a device or whether it was something done cynically and deliberately to avoid inspection during the disclosure process. We just don’t know,” Mr Tomlinson said.
“From Mrs Vardy’s point of view, she does not know either,” he added.
Recap: Allegations of message deletion are an ‘incredible theory’, Ms Vardy’s lawyer says
Hugh Tomlinson QC described the arguments that Ms Vardy had a “conspiracy to delete” messages or had deleted some in a selective way as an “incredible theory”.
“There was an export of a very large number of Whatsapp messages,” he told the court.
“Why would Mrs Vardy, if she was destroying evidence, do it in that selective and complex way?” Mr Tomlinson asked.
“If she was a wicked litigant who was trying to deceive the court by getting rid of damaging evidence, the idea she would do it by getting rid of images and not text …. simply beggars belief.”
Earlier Hugh Tomlinson QC had said: “People have different views, people behave in different ways. Mrs Rooney thought Mrs Vardy was suspiciously friendly, but people behave in different ways.”
Later, discussing The Sun newspaper and Ms Rooney, the barrister said it was “a newspaper that she clearly loathes” and that Ms Rooney may disapprove of the way Ms Vardy had sometimes been featured in it.
“One can see why Mrs Rooney thinks that but it is not a basis for making an allegation of the kind that was made,” Mr Tomlinson said.
Mr Tomlinson added: “Mrs Vardy has made mistakes. Perhaps the most serious of these may have been to trust Ms Watt as her agent.”
‘The evidence of two people who don’t know who is leaking stories’
Mr Tomlinson is taking the court through messages between Ms Vardy and her agent, where the pair discuss how Ms Rooney’s private information is being leaked to the press and speculate about who is doing it.
Mr Tomlinson has argued that, because the pair are wondering who the leak might be, it cannot be them.
In one exchange on 16 August 2019 Ms Watt messaged: “So I asked Andy Halls a couple of days ago where they are getting so much coleen stuff from and he wouldn’t say who.” Andy Halls is a Sun journalist.
She added: “I think she has posted that to see if anyone sells it x,” to which Ms Vardy replied: “I wonder who it’s coming from then x”.
Ms Vardy also messaged: “Yeah 100% these posts are to see who gives them to the paper x.”
In another exchange, Ms Vardy messaged her agent about whether she was suspected by Ms Rooney as a leak.
“Do you think she still thinks it’s me x,” she wrote.
Ms Watt, referring to Sun reporters, replied: “That’s why I asked him who he got stuff from. And that’s when he said Ellie henman gets it all but sometimes they put it under his byline to make it less obvious.”
“Bet it’s their PR again has to be x”, Ms Vardy replied. “I really can’t see anyone being that arses with selling stories on her.”
“Unless it is someone who is skint like Danielle Lloyd,” Ms Watt responded.
“Ahhh is she on her private Instagram x,” Ms Vardy questioned.
“Yes! I saw her comment on something the other day. In fact it was under a story she had posted a screenshot of x.”