The High Court has sided with Rebekah Vardy in the first stage of her libel action against Coleen Rooney.
On Friday, it was ruled that Rooney's post accusing Vardy of leaking stories about her to the press from her private Instagram account "clearly identified" Vardy as being “guilty of the serious and consistent breach of trust she alleges”.
The post made by Rooney, 34, in October 2019 saw her state that screenshots from the fake original stories posted to her account in a sting operation "clearly show" that "just one person" had viewed them.
“It’s ……………. Rebekah Vardy’s account," she concluded. Vardy, 38, strenuously denies any wrong-doing and is suing Rooney for damages in libel.
Justice Warby ruled that the “natural and ordinary” meaning of Rooney’s posts was that Vardy had “regularly and frequently abused her status as a trusted follower of Ms Rooney’s personal Instagram account by secretly informing The Sun newspaper of Ms Rooney’s private posts and stories”.
He said he had determined the meaning of the post to be “substantially the same as the claimant’s meaning”.
Justice Warby rejected Rooney's claim that she was referring to Vardy's account as opposed to Vardy herself.
He ruled: "I certainly do not think that the ordinary reader would take that single word (account), albeit repeated, to indicate that Mrs Rooney remains in doubt about who the wrongdoer was.
Watch: Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney’s court battle commences
"There is nothing in these words, apart from the word “account”, that in any way suggests that the behaviour of which Mrs Rooney is complaining might have been carried out by anyone other than the account holder, Mrs Vardy."
The judge ordered Rooney to pay Vardy just under £23,000 in costs for Thursday's hearing.
At Thursday's hearing, Vardy’s barrister Hugh Tomlinson QC said Rooney’s posts were an "untrue and unjustified defamatory attack" which was "published and republished to millions of people".
"In fact, she did nothing wrong. Whatever leaks there were did not come from her," he added.
Rooney's representative David Sherborne argued that it was "true" that Vardy was "responsible for consistently passing on information about the defendant’s private Instagram posts and stories to The Sun".
He said: "Mrs Rooney intends to defend these words as true in whatever meaning."
The court also heard both Vardy and Rooney had agreed for a “stay” of the proceedings until February, so there could be “one final attempt to resolve the matter without the need for a full trial”.
With reporting by PA.
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