Coleen Rooney suffers libel case setback as judge rules she can’t sue Rebekah Vardy’s agent

Coleen Rooney has suffered a setback in her defence against Rebekah Vardy's libel case.

She has been denied permission to bring a claim against Rebekah's agent as part of a legal battle between the footballer's wives.

A pre-trial hearing held last week has made a series of conclusions ahead of the libel trial, which is set to take place in May but could be delayed.

Coleen's legal team, led by Mr David Sherborne, had asked for Caroline Watt to be included in the case in an "additional claim" for misuse of private information to be heard alongside the libel case.

The lawyers previously claimed Rebekah had leaked information to The Sun either directly or through her agent Caroline Watt “acting on her instruction or with her knowing approval”.

Wayne Rooney's wife's barrister David told the court last week if Rebekah wins her case in the basis she wasn't the person who leaked the information, Coleen would be left without "vindication" – unless she is able to bring the claim against Caroline in the same case. Rebekah's lawyers opposed the application. 

Following a two-day ruling last week, Mrs Justice Steyn refused permission for the additional claim against the agent and for it to be heard alongside the libel trial.

But, the judge did give permission for Coleen to amend her defence and include an allegation that, through Caroline, Rebekah provided information to The Sun about an unnamed professional footballer.

She also gave permission for the WhatsApp messages between Rebekah and her agent during the relevant period to be disclosed.

The judge also allowed an order that both parties make a joint request for information to Instagram.

But, she refused other disclosure applications made by both parties.

Rebekah, 39, is suing 35 year old Rooney for libel after she claimed her Instagram account was leaking stories about her.

It comes after legal representatives for both women took part in a pre-trial hearing, which was to decide which evidence can be used in the libel trial, which is set to take place in May.

During the hearing, text messages between Rebekah and her former manager Caroline Watt were disclosed in court.

Rebekah’s lawyer Hugh Tomlinson QC has shared a series of WhatsApp messages she sent to her agent Caroline Watt in a bid to "demonstrate beyond doubt that she was not responsible for leaking private information".

Rebekah, 39, is suing 35 year old Coleen for libel after Coleen accused Rebekah's Instagram account of "informing the press about her private online posts" in October 2019.

The libel case was filed by Jamie Vardy's wife after Coleen accused her Instagram account of leaking stories about Coleen to the press.

At the time, she told fans that she had "blocked everyone from viewing my Instagram stories except ONE account," and then posted "a series of false stories" to see if they would make it into the newspapers – which she says they did.

She then revealed: "I have saved and screenshotted all the original stories which clearly show just one person has viewed them. It's……….Rebekah Vardy's account."

Coleen was dubbed "Wagatha Christie" for her investigative skills while Rebekah, who was expecting her fifth child at the time. Rebekah vehemently denied the accusations and hit back: "I liked you a lot a Coleen and I'm so upset that you have chosen to do this, especially when I'm heavily pregnant."

Eight months later, Rebekah filed a £1million defamation lawsuit against Coleen in a bid to clear her name. Rebekah reportedly filed paperwork that claims Coleen libelled or slandered her by accusing her Instagram account of leaking stories about Coleen to the press.

Coleen’s legal team later released a statement in reaction to Rebekah’s lawsuit. They said: “It is disappointing that Mrs Vardy has chosen to issue court proceedings. Coleen feels that the time and money involved could be put to better use; her offer to meet face to face still stands.

“Mrs Vardy’s decision to issue court proceedings does at least mean that Coleen’s evidence can be made public when the time is right.”

In the first stage of the libel case, Mr Justice Warby agreed with Rebekah's lawyers that Coleen's post directly accused Rebekah of leaking the stories. As a result of his ruling, Mr Justice Warby instructed Coleen to pay Rebekah just under £23,000 in costs.

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In July 2021, Rebekah was successful in her request to have parts of Coleen's defence thrown out of court.

High Court judge Mrs Justice Steyn dismissed a claim by Coleen that Rebekah showed "publicity seeking behaviour" as she sat behind her in someone else's seat during the 2016 Euro football tournament.

Mrs Justice Steyn found that even if the allegation was true, it would still not help Coleen's case against Rebekah. She said: "The fact that a person seeks media coverage of their own attendance at a football match does not make it more probable that they would disclose private information about another person to the press."

In February, the case returned to High Court, where Rebekah’s lawyer Hugh Tomlinson QC shared a series of WhatsApp messages she sent to her agent Caroline Watt in a bid to "demonstrate beyond doubt that she was not responsible for leaking private information".

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One message Rebekah wrote to Caroline read: “Someone on her Instagram regularly sells stories on her. Bet it’s their PR again, has to be."

Rebekah had also allegedly said "she’s a nasty b***h" and that Wayne Rooney's wife was "up her own a**e".

Meanwhile, Rebekah's barrister Hugh Tomlinson QC said of the "nasty b***h" comment: "That’s not right, this isn’t a passage about Mrs Rooney, this is a passage about someone else."

The hearing is about the evidence as the trial is due to start in May.

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