'Wagatha Christie' case to return to court next week

The so-called “Wagatha Christie” case is set to return to court for a hearing over legal costs. Rebekah Vardy, 42, lost her high-profile libel claim against Coleen Rooney, 38, in July 2022 when Mrs Justice Steyn ruled that Mrs Rooney’s viral social media post accusing Mrs Vardy of leaking her private information to the press was “substantially true”.

In an order from October the same year, the judge ruled that Mrs Vardy should pay 90% of Mrs Rooney’s costs. Mrs Rooney, the wife of former Manchester United star Wayne Rooney, incurred total costs of more than £2 million but £350,000 of those had been racked up before the trial in May.

Mrs Vardy, who is married to Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy, was ordered to pay £800,000 of the costs bill that November. However, this was not Mrs Rooney’s final total costs bill and the case is set to return to the High Court in London for a hearing before a specialist costs judge.

These judges assess the costs and expenses incurred during civil cases and rule on how much successful parties can recover, and can reduce the costs if needed or if they are deemed to be unreasonable. In the viral social media post in October 2019 at the heart of the libel claim, Mrs Rooney said she had carried out a months-long “sting operation” and accused Mrs Vardy of leaking information about her private life to the press.

Mrs Rooney publicly claimed Mrs Vardy’s account was the source behind three stories in The Sun newspaper featuring fake details she had posted on her private Instagram profile – featuring her travelling to Mexico for a “gender selection” procedure, her planning to return to TV, and the basement flooding at her home.

Following the high-profile trial, Mrs Justice Steyn ruled in Mrs Rooney’s favour, finding it was “likely” that Mrs Vardy’s former agent Caroline Watt had passed information to The Sun and that she “knew of and condoned this behaviour”.

The judge added that Mrs Vardy had “actively” engaged, “directing Ms Watt to the private Instagram account, sending her screenshots of Mrs Rooney’s posts, drawing attention to items of potential interest to the press, and answering additional queries raised by the press via Ms Watt”.

The hearing on Tuesday before Senior Costs Judge Andrew Gordon-Saker is due to begin at 10.30am.