LONDON (Reuters) - Rebekah Vardy, the wife of an England soccer striker, won the first exchange in her libel case against the wife of his former international teammate Wayne Rooney over accusations she passed on stories to a newspaper about her former friend.
Vardy is suing Coleen Rooney at London's High Court for accusing her on Twitter and Instagram of leaking stories from her private life to the Sun tabloid. Vardy denies the leaks.
Both women belong to a glamorous group of footballers' wives and girlfriends, known in Britain as the WAGs, who have become celebrities in their own right, their lives regularly dissected by the tabloid press.
In October 2019, Rooney, whose husband is England's record goalscorer and former captain, said she had carefully planned and executed a sting operation to see who was leaking stories about her, and that her detective work had worked out who was responsible.
The end of her message said: "It's ... Rebekah Vardy's account".
The libel trial, dubbed the "WAGatha Christie" case, after the renowned author of detective novels, kicked off on Thursday with both parties arguing about the "natural and ordinary" meaning of the words at the centre of the dispute.
Vardy's lawyers said they should be taken to mean that Vardy herself had consistently betrayed Rooney's trust over several years. Rooney's lawyers argued reference to "Rebekah Vardy's account", stopped short of asserting Vardy's unequivocal guilt.
Judge Mark Warby came down on Vardy's side.
"The reader’s natural inference would be that the miscreant was Ms Vardy herself," he said in his judgement. "There is no indication to the contrary."
The core of Rooney's defence, that her post was justified because its content was true, will be examined during a full trial at a later date.
(Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Stephen Addison)