Rebekah Vardy could pay more than £1.5m of legal costs over Wagatha Christie trial

Coleen Rooney and Rebecca Vardy
Coleen Rooney and Rebecca Vardy

Rebekah Vardy is expected to pay over £1.5 million in legal costs to Coleen Rooney, after a judge ruled that she had deliberately destroyed evidence in the Wagatha Christie libel trial.

The wife of Leicester City player Jamie Vardy was today ordered to make an interim payment of £800,000 following her failed libel action, which she must settle in the next six weeks.

She must also pay the legal costs of seven Sun journalists who were named in the case.

The total payment to Rooney, wife of the former England captain Wayne Rooney, is expected to exceed £1.5 million.

When Vardy’s own costs are taken into account, the total legal bill is likely to exceed £3 million.

In an unusual move, Mrs Justice Steyn, the High Court judge, said Vardy must pay Rooney’s costs on an indemnity basis, which requires her to pay a larger proportion of the winning party’s costs than the standard 70-75 per cent.

Rooney had asked for 100 per cent of her costs to be paid but the judge reduced that figure to 90 per cent, saying that the wife of former England captain Wayne Rooney had included a “weak allegation” in her case that Vardy was behind a tabloid newspaper column called “The Secret Wag”.

Explaining her decision, Mrs Justice Steyn said: “What takes this case out of the norm… is that in my judgment following the trial I found that the claimant (and also her former agent) had deliberately deleted or destroyed evidence.

“Such behaviour is outside the ordinary and reasonable conduct of proceedings. In all the circumstances, I consider it appropriate to order the claimant to pay costs on the indemnity basis.”

Vardy claimed in her evidence that she had accidentally deleted WhatsApp messages pertinent to the case.

Caroline Watt, her former agent, claimed that she could not hand over her WhatsApp messages with Vardy because she had accidentally dropped her mobile phone into the North Sea.

Rooney’s legal team responded to the cost order. Paul Lunt, partner and head of litigation at Brabners, said: "The High Court has today decided that Rebekah Vardy must pay Coleen Rooney’s legal costs on an indemnity basis - the highest basis that the Court could order.

Rebekah Vardy, wife of Leicester City soccer player Jamie Vardy - HANNAH MCKAY/Reuters
Rebekah Vardy, wife of Leicester City soccer player Jamie Vardy - HANNAH MCKAY/Reuters

"The reasoning given for this decision is that there was a finding at trial that Rebekah Vardy had deliberately deleted or destroyed evidence.

"That behaviour falls outside the ordinary and reasonable conduct expected of a party in legal proceedings. This followed a separate finding regarding the loss of evidence that was in the possession of Rebekah Vardy’s former agent, Caroline Watt.

"Coleen’s pursuit of that evidence is a major reason why her legal costs increased substantially from the original estimates given to the court long before the start of the trial.

"Rebekah Vardy has been ordered to pay £800,000 to Coleen Rooney by November 15 as an interim payment until the final total she must pay is either agreed or decided upon by the court. Naturally, Rebekah will also be responsible for her own legal costs of bringing her failed libel action against Coleen.

"Today’s decision also makes Rebekah liable to pay for legal costs incurred by certain journalists from News UK, publishers of The Sun newspaper, following her unsuccessful efforts to involve them in the proceedings."