Rebecca Vardy (married to footballer, Jamie Vardy) has brought a libel action against Coleen Rooney (married to footballer, Wayne Rooney). Libel is an alleged defamatory statement that is made in permanent form. Such as, written/printed words, online material, movies, radio broadcasts, or theatre. Rebecca Vardy told the High Court at a preliminary hearing that she brought the claim as a last resort to “vindicate her reputation”.
Mrs Vardy’s barrister told the court that Mrs Vardy has received “widespread hostility and abuse” after being accused of leaking private details of her former friend, Coleen Rooney.
Coleen Rooney has claimed that she spent five months gradually reducing the people who could see her Instagram stories until only Rebecca Vardy could see them. Mrs Rooney then posted a false Instagram story that her basement had been flooded. The fake flood then appeared as a news story in the Sun, after which Mrs Rooney publicly accused Mrs Vardy of leaking personal information to the press. The post accusing Mrs Vardy has been liked by around half a million people and has been republished hundreds of thousands of times in the media.
In Mrs Vardy’s formal claim to the court it states that Mrs Vardy received vicious threats and abuse because of the allegations. She has suffered “extreme distress, hurt anxiety and embarrassment which has led Mrs Vardy to “feel suicidal”.
Mrs Vardy’s barrister, Hugh Tomlinson QC asked the court to impose a stay on the case until 8 February to see if the two parties could resolve their dispute through mediation. If they do not agree a settlement the dispute is expected to go to a full trail in the summer of 2021.
David Sherbourne, representing Mrs Rooney (the same barrister that represented Johnny Depp in his failed Libel claim) told the court that Mrs Rooney was not blaming Mrs Vardy directly, but was blaming “the account of Rebecca Vardy”. Accounts of celebrities are sometimes operated by others on the celebrity’s behalf. “Mrs Rooney is defending the words as true” and she is referring to the account not an individual.
It has been reported that since the preliminary trail both parties have agreed a stay in proceedings until February. If they manage to resolve the dispute privately, a full trial will not be needed.
The recent celebrity defamation cases have brought this area of law to the front pages of the press. It shows how important it is to pause before you post. Never post in anger, sleep on it first to consider the possible implications on such a post. You should not unnecessarily risk having another bringing a claim against you or your business for alleged defamation. At Lawdit we can assist you with defamation whether you are alleging defamation, or another has accused you of defamation.
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