Vardy v Rooney; interim applications in renowned defamation claim

30th March 2022

Many will be familiar with the background to this dispute, which has been widely reported in the media over the last few years. It concerns a post by Coleen Rooney on social media in October 2019 alleging that Rebekah Vardy had secretly informed the Sun newspaper of details of Mrs Rooney’s private life. Mrs Vardy brought a claim in defamation against Mrs Rooney, issuing her claim on 12 June 2020.

At the latest stage of this case, both parties recently issued a number of interim applications in advance of trial. Mrs Rooney issued applications:

  • to add Ms Watt, Mrs Vardy’s agent, as a party to the proceedings
  • for further disclosure of documents to be made by Mrs Vardy
  • to further amend her defence.

Mrs Vardy applied for specific disclosure of documents to be made by Mrs Rooney and for further information. It is worth noting that this case has been plagued with issues around lost evidence throughout, which motivated the parties to apply for further disclosure of documents.

Mrs Justice Steyn, sitting in the High Court, refused most of the disclosure sought by both parties. The judge did agree to let Mrs Rooney’s solicitors search WhatsApp messages passing between Mrs Vardy and Ms Watt and to make a request to Instagram for relevant data. However, the judge thought that much of the disclosure sought was either irrelevant or did not exist, and even if it did exist, it would fall under the continuing duty of standard disclosure the parties were bound by and should be disclosed in any event.

Mrs Justice Steyn also refused to add Ms Watt as an additional party to claim as the application had been made ‘too late in the day’ and would delay the trial date by up to a year. Finally, Mrs Rooney’s attempt to further re-amend her defence was also rejected, in part because this document was already 47 pages long and the requested amendments would have extended it by an eye-watering 61 pages in total.

The case continues and is listed for a seven-day trial starting on 9 May 2022.

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