Rebekah Vardy abused by trolls claiming link to Madeleine McCann disappearance, judge told
Rebekah Vardy was left distressed and anxious after being named as the source of media leaks by Coleen Rooney, court documents claim.
It led to internet trolls lashing out, even linking her to Islamic State and the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.
Coleen had “pointed the finger” at Rebekah as “the villain” who allegedly leaked stories about her private life, the High Court heard yesterday.
Footballer Wayne Rooney’s wife, 34, was dubbed “Wagatha Christie” on social media after claiming she had narrowed down leaks to a newspaper to Rebekah.
Coleen said she planted fake stories about going to Mexico, returning to TV, and a flood at her new house.
Rebekah Vardy was pictured arriving for a Dancing On Ice training session as the first High Court hearing against Coleen Rooney took place in London
After allegedly narrowing down the source, she wrote on Twitter : “It’s… Rebekah Vardy’s account.”
Footballer Jamie Vardy’s wife, 38, denies the accusations and is suing Coleen for libel.
Her written claim, filed in June, detailed “very high levels of public abuse and ridicule” it caused. Her barrister Hugh Tomlinson QC wrote that she felt suicidal, took three trips to hospital due to her anxiety and worried about losing her baby due to the stress.
Mr Tomlinson said: “The claimant has suffered extreme distress, hurt, anxiety and embarrassment.”
The filing detailed ways Coleen’s post was reported and repeated on social media.
Some users joked Rebekah was the new leader of the Islamic State, while others said she was involved in Mad-eleine’s 2007 disappearance in Portugal.
Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of (left to right) Hugh Tomlinson QC, representing Rebekah Vardy, judge Mr Justice Warby and David Sherborne, representing Coleen Rooney at the Royal Courts of Justice
Mr Tomlinson said: “Following the police announcing that a new suspect had been identified in the disappearance of Madeline McCann, the claimant was the subject of highly distressing publications on Twitter alleging she was the suspect.”
Coleen’s tweet was also widely parodied online, including on the account of Jeremy Corbyn, then-leader of the Labour Party.
“Now I know for certain which individual is selling off our NHS,” Mr Corbyn wrote on the day of last year’s general election. “It’s… Boris Johnson.”
Mr Tomlinson said: “In fact, [Rebekah] did nothing wrong. Whatever leaks there were did not come from her.”
Coleen Rooney's tweet became an online parody
(Image: Mirrorpix via Getty Images)
He said Coleen’s post featured “a build-up to the ‘big reveal’ of the identity of the person responsible”, adding: “The description of the defendant’s detective work makes it clear the claimant is being said to be responsible for the leaking of the three specific stories mentioned.
“The person is Rebekah Vardy, the finger is being pointed at her, as the villain, the someone, the one person.”
Mr Tomlinson added: “The claimant never knows when she might be faced with the allegation, or reference to the post – which causes her great anxiety.”
Coleen has denied any wrongdoing.
Rebekah with her footballer husband Jamie Vardy
(Image: Getty Images Europe)
In a written defence filed in October, her lawyers argued her post was “entirely legitimate and justified” and said the stories had been derived from Rebekah’s account, rather than her directly.
It said she became suspicious after details of a car crash were shared with a newspaper in 2019, using information from her private Instagram account.
David Sherborne, representing Coleen, wrote: “The claimant was responsible for consistently passing on information about the defendant’s private Instagram posts and stories to [a newspaper], with whom she had a very close relationship.”
He said she denied liability for abuse of Rebekah by third parties, writing: “Such abuse was not foreseeable and is not the responsibility of the defendant.”
Neither Rebekah, who is in rehearsals for Dancing On Ice in Nottingham, nor Coleen attended the London hearing.
Mr Justice Warby said he would give his ruling on Friday.