Footballer Jamie Vardy’s phone and computer devices are allowed to be inspected as part of his wife’s libel battle against Coleen Rooney, the High Court has ruled.
Rebekah Vardy is suing Ms Rooney after the latter had accused her in October 2019 of leaking “false stories” about her private life to the press for five months.
Ms Rooney, wife of now-retired footballer Wayne Rooney, had undertook her own investigation to find the culprit before publicly claiming that Ms Vardy was the one who shared the posts from her personal Instagram account with The Sun.
Ms Rooney said that she had restricted the number of accounts that could see her Instagram “story” posts to just Ms Vardy’s.
She then insinuated that she was the culprit by posting on social media: “It’s........... Rebekah Vardy’s account”.
The months-long “sting operation” had gained her the nickname “Wagatha Christie”, to reflect her detective skills and status as a “wag” – a name used to refer to the “wives and girlfriends” of footballers.
Ms Vardy, who is married to Leicester City striker and former England player Jamie, denies the accusations and is suing Ms Rooney for libel. The legal costs for both sides are estimated to be around £500,000 each.
At a preliminary hearing on Wednesday, the High Court heard that both women will be using experts to analyse the data of the Instagram app on relevant devices ahead of the trial.
However, the pair had not agreed on which devices, including phones, tablets or computers, should be included.
The court previously heard that other people had accessed Ms Vardy’s Instagram account, including her assistant Caroline Watt, her husband, and his social media manager.
Judge Roger Eastman concluded, after submissions were made from both sides’ legal teams, that the experts should be allowed to access data from other devices that had used Ms Vardy’s account, which could include her husband’s.
He said: “In light of the fact Mrs Vardy has given access [to her Instagram account] to Ms Watt and her husband, it seems to me at least they and their devices are, for the purposes of disclosure, within her possession and control.
“Their devices are up for grabs for inspection and analysis by the experts,” he added.
Judge Eastman later indicated during the hearing that the full trial in the case will take place next year.
“I think it is a good idea to get this over with as soon as possible,” he said.