Today is the last day of the Wagatha Christie trial between Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney with their lawyers giving their closing arguments in the High Court. This all started when Coleen Rooney accused Rebekah Vardy of leaking her private Instagram stories, and other stories about Coleen and her family, to The Sun newspaper.
In October 2019, Coleen Rooney tweeted about the ‘burden in her life for years’, where Coleen revealed “it’s……… Rebekah Vardy’s account”. In the tweet to the millions of her followers, Coleen accused Vardy of selling Rooney’s stories to the press. In response, Vardy launched a civil lawsuit, against Coleen for defamation to clear her name arguing that she was falsely accused, which she still maintains. Her argument is that the person leaking stories about Coleen was somebody else, and this is the crux of the past two weeks of legal arguments and impassioned evidence.
What is defamation? Defamation is where someone’s reputation is damaged by the words of another person. Libellous defamation is a type of defamation which is conducted through a permanent form of communication, like posting through social media, which is what we have with the Wagatha Christie case. In order to prove defamation, a statement must be made that refers to the Claimant, in this case Rebekah Vardy, and that statement must cause (or must be likely to cause) serious harm to the reputation of the Claimant once published.
The argument is that Rooney defamed Vardy with her tweet and accusations of leaking her private stories to The Sun, and that as a result of this Mrs Vardy suffered reputational and financial damage. This will be for the High Court to decide, and the judgement is to be delivered at a later date.
There are multiple defences to defamation, one of which is the truth defence: if the statement made is true, then this will be an absolute defence to defamation. This is Rooney’s defence. Vardy’s lawyer states that if the information was leaked ‘it was not something that was done with Mrs Vardy’s knowledge or authority’. Without full knowledge of the case and the evidence, we cannot predict the court’s decision, but we have been following the case online and been surprised by the scandalous revelations that have come out throughout the witness evidence.
Whatever your views on the high profile trial, there is no doubt that the trial has been stressful and uncomfortable for all the participants. Similarly, handling a situation in which your business has been defamed can lead to significant distress and damage to a business’s reputation. We have handled a number of these situations for our clients, including one where our client’s competitor was spreading untrue rumours about our client’s business practices, with a view to winning our client’s customers for themselves.
If you feel that you or your business has been defamed, and would like some advice, please feel free to get in touch with Sally Mouhim by telephone 01273 447 065, email [email protected] or click here to fill out an enquiry form.