The 38-year-wife of England striker Jamie Vardy insists she was wrongly accused of leaking stories to the media about Rooney and has brought a libel claim at the High Court.
Rooney insists her accusation was justified because Vardy had been leaking stories about her life, but she says she never wanted the row to end up in court.
At the first High Court showdown this morning, Vardy’s barrister Hugh Tomlinson QC said the legal fight had been “trivialised in some media coverage as ‘WAG wars’.”
“The impact on Mrs Vardy is not trivial”, he told Mr Justice Warby.
“Although the media, as it is entitled to do, has turned the case into something of an entertainment, it is not from Mrs Vardy’s point of view entertainment and hasn’t continued to be entertaining, in circumstances where in fact she did nothing wrong.
“Whatever leaks there were, they did not come from her.”
The explosive row started in October last year when Rooney, 34, put an accusatory post on Instagram which concluded: “It’s ……………. Rebekah Vardy’s account.”
Rooney, the wife of England striker Wayne, said she had conducted an investigation into suspected leaks to the media, posting fake stories on Instagram to track down the culprit before publicly revealing her results.
Her lawyer David Sherborne said Rooney never wanted the row to come to court, saying she is open to mediation with Vardy to settle without a full-blown libel trial.
Vardy – seven-months pregnant at the time of the Instagram post – immediately denied being to blame for leaks and filed a legal claim, saying she had been falsely slurred and the incident left her fearing she would suffer a miscarriage.
“The post has been ‘liked’ by something like half a million people,” said Mr Tomlinson.
“It has, as was inevitable given Mrs Rooney’s public profile and the sensation nature of the allegation, been republished in the media and on social media on hundreds of thousands of occasions to many millions of readers.”
He continued: “Obviously it’s a very serious claim to make to millions of people. As a result of publicity of the post, Mrs Vardy suffered very serious and widespread hostility and abuse.
“She was seven months pregnant at the time the post was made, obviously increasing the stress and distress she suffered”, adding that the row “continues to have an adverse impact on her”.
In written submissions to the court, Rooney’s legal team argue that the readers of the Instagram post would ordinarily focus on the final line, and most readers would know that celebrity social media accounts are operated by more than just the named star.
But Mr Tomlinson argued: “It’s not the account doing the leaks, it’s the person. The finger is pointed at her, the villain, the one person who was revealed.”
The court heard this morning that both sides are considering entering into a mediation process, with a deadline of February next year, in a bid to avoid a full libel trial.
Mr Sherborne said Rooney has “offered more than once” to engage in mediation and never wanted the case to go to court.
Mr Justice Warby is due to make a ruling over the “natural and ordinary” meaning of the words used in Rooney’s post, as they would have been understood by the general public.
Mr Sherborne argued: “The post would not have been taken as unequivocal as pointing the finger at Mrs Vardy herself, but the account, @beckyvardy.”
He said Rooney’s stance remains that Vardy was responsible for leaks to The Sun.
Mr Justice Warby reserved his judgment on the meaning to the ordinary reader of Rooney’s post until tomorrow at 2pm.