Rebekah Vardy has confirmed she attempted to leak a story about the arrest of drink-driving Premier League footballer Danny Drinkwater to a journalist at the Sun – but insisted it was a one-off.
As part of the ongoing “Wagatha Christie” libel trial, the footballer’s wife said she sent the information on Drinkwater’s night in the cells to her agent Caroline Watt, along with a WhatsApp message that said: “I want paying for this x.”
When told the Sun had already got the story about the arrest from a source at the police station, Vardy said she was “fuming I did not give it to you earlier”. Watt replied to say “that would have been a fortune 😂” and instead suggested finding out where Drinkwater lived and sharing the information with the paparazzi agency Splash News.
Vardy told the high court that she did not systematically leak stories to the media and the idea of seeking payment from the Sun for the story was a “fleeting thought”. She said her real motivation in wanting to leak the story was to expose a drink-driver to public scrutiny.
Vardy is suing fellow footballer’s wife Coleen Rooney for libel, with the multimillion-pound week-long trial under way at the high court. Rooney has publicly claimed that Vardy leaked three stories from a private Instagram account to the Sun newspaper, an allegation that Vardy says is false and defamatory.
On the second day of the trial, Rooney’s barrister, David Sherborne, continued to cross-examine Vardy, arguing that she regularly leaked private information to newspapers.
Among other allegations, the court heard Vardy discussed a famous celebrity and suggested leaking “the story about her shagging”. Vardy told the court she was joking and would not have leaked it.
Sherborne suggested this and other examples showed a pattern of behavior, where Vardy passed tips to Watt who then dealt with journalists: “It’s not that you did not want to do the dirty, it’s that you did not want to be seen to be doing the dirty. ”
It was also claimed that Vardy leaked private information about her husband’s Leicester City teammate Riyad Mahrez to the media in 2018, potentially destabilizing the Premier League team. At the time he was “on strike” and trying to force a move away from the football club.
Vardy told her agent Watt: “Mahrez not turned up to training again, the lads are fuming.”
Watt suggested contacting a Sky Sports reporter but Vardy said she was concerned: “I just do not want it coming back on me.”
Watt then said “I can tell someone” to which Vardy replied: “Yes, do it.”
Rooney’s lawyers claim that the exchange shows Vardy authorizing her agent to leak the information about Mahrez and the feelings of Leicester City’s players to a journalist – and that the original source of the information could have been her husband, Jamie.
Reminded that she was under oath in the witness box, Vardy insisted she was certain a subsequent story about Mahrez did not come from her or Caroline Watt: “I was gossiping about things that were already in the public domain… It was an interesting story because it was pretty much unheard of that a player would not turn up. ”
Sherborne pressed Vardy on whether her husband was the source for the messages about Mahrez: “Did you or did you not know that the lads were fuming?”
Vardy insisted she was just gossiping and did not have a source in the Leicester City changing room: “Jamie and I never discussed whether ‘the lads were fuming’.”
Sherborne told the court that it was difficult to know for certain if Watt had sent messages to journalists because her phone – which he wished to search – had fallen over the side of a boat off the Scottish coast: “We will never know because her phone sits at the bottom of the North Sea. ”
Rooney sat on the front bench in the wood-panelled courtroom taking extensive notes as Vardy gave evidence. She was accompanied in court by her husband, the Derby County manager, Wayne Rooney.
The court also heard that Vardy gave Watt access to her Instagram account, which both women then used to look at Rooney’s private locked posts.
At one point Watt noticed that Rooney had briefly blocked Vardy.
The agent asked Vardy: “Babe, has Coleen unfollowed you?”
Vardy replied: “Oh wow I just saw, wow, what a cunt. I’m going to message her. “
The case continues.