Footballer Jamie Vardy’s phone could be searched as part of his wife Rebekah’s libel battle with Coleen Rooney, a judge at the High Court has ruled.
Coleen, 35, accused Rebekah’s account, 39, of leaking “false stories” about her private life in October 2019 after carrying out a months-long “sting operation”.
The wife of former England star Wayne Rooney, dubbed “Wagatha Christie”, publicly claimed her fellow footballer’s wife’s account shared fake stories she had posted on her personal Instagram account with The Sun newspaper.
Rebekah, who is married to Leicester City striker Jamie, denies the accusations and is suing Coleen for libel.
Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney are set to meet in court in May 2022, with the trial expected to last up to seven days.
The ongoing court case between Rebekah and Coleen continued on Wednesday with a remote hearing.
Rebekah, through Sara Mansoori who represented her in the remote hearing on Wednesday, said she is willing to have her “PC, handheld device and mobile phone” searched for all communications relating to the allegations that she leaked Rooney’s information.
Both parties have indicated that they would like to call an expert of Instagram, to show how the social media site works.
The court previously heard that other people had accessed Rebekah’s Instagram account, including her assistant Caroline Watt, Jamie Vardy and his social media manager.
Sara Mansoori said her legal team was “taking steps” to make the third-party Instagram data available for the court and denied any secrecy.
She continued: “There is no difference in approach in terms of what Mrs Vardy is expecting and what she is prepared to provide.”
However, Coleen’s barrister John Samson told the court: “There is a double standard here that is clear… that won’t do. The inference is that a secrecy filter is now being applied to documents.”
He added: “(It) is very restricted and does not deal with access to the Instagram account by others.”
In written arguments, Mr Samson continued: “As well as the connections between private content on (Mrs Rooney’s) Instagram account and articles in The Sun newspaper, the case will turn on the length of time, regularity and frequency of the access to the defendant’s Instagram account made from accounts connected to the claimant.
“This data is wider and deeper than the data available on individual personal devices.”
Judge Roger Eastman concluded that the Instagram experts should be allowed to access data from other devices that had used Rebekah’s account, which could include her husband’s phone or computer.
He said: “In order for the expert to explore what has gone on … they need to have access to more than just the personal devices of Mrs Vardy and Mrs Rooney.
“The outreach and depth with which Instagram matters circulate, and can be circulated, is rather wider than that.”
The judge continued: “That may well involve access to other people’s devices, rather than just Mrs Rooney and Mrs Vardy’s devices.
“In light of the fact Mrs Vardy has given access (to her Instagram) to Ms Watt and her husband, it seems to me at least they and their devices are, for the purposes of disclosure, within her possession and control.
“Whether Ms Mansoori likes it or not, for the purpose of instructing the experts … their devices are up for grabs for inspection and analysis by the experts.”
Judge Eastman later indicated the full trial in the case will take place next year.
“I think it is a good idea to get this over with as soon as possible,” he added.
Following several preliminary hearings, the pair today faced an updated costs hearing, where they set out their costs of the legal action.
It had previously been reported that Rebekah would have to pay a chunk of Coleen’s legal fees.
Coleen was told she’d have to re-plead her case after parts of it were thrown out by a judge, and cover the cost of Rebekah’s revised reply to her new case.
And Rebekah was ordered to pay 30% of the costs, estimated to be around £10,500.
Back in March, a court heard Coleen brand the legal costs in the case “grotesque”.
It’s expected that the case could cost a total of £897,000.
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