Last year the sports and entertainment worlds were gripped by detective skill of the highest order. Concerned that stories from her private Instagram account were being leaked to the press, Coleen Rooney restricted who could view those stories until only one person remained able to see them: Rebekah Vardy.
She then posted some made up stories, and those then appeared in the Sun. Rooney then posted her allegations in a widely shared post that made headlines in the mainstream press, as well as across social media (you can read it below).
Vardy, however, has always insisted that her own account is not private to her, and various people have access to it. The Court of Public Opinion did not assist Vardy, and so she commenced an action for defamation, predicated on Rooney’s “exposé” post. In defamation actions, one of the most important aspects is the meaning attributed to the allegedly defamatory statement. It is now normal that there be a separate hearing (often called a trial of a preliminary issue) to determine the true and ordinary meaning of the statement. If the Court finds a meaning that cannot be defamatory, then the action will almost always end at that point.
Last week Mr Justice Warby heard argument on what the statement means, and fell on the side of Vardy. The statement and the meaning he attributed to it are below.
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"For a few years now someone who I trusted to follow me on my personal Instagram account has been consistently informing The SUN newspaper of my private posts and stories. There has been so much information given to them about me, my friends and my family – all without my permission or knowledge. After a long time of trying to figure out who it could be, for various reasons, I had a suspicion. To try and prove this, I came up with an idea. I blocked everyone from viewing my Instagram stories except ONE account. (Those on my private account must have been wondering why I haven't had stories on there for a while.) Over the past five months I have posted a series of false stories to see if they made their way into the Sun newspaper. And you know what, they did! The story about gender selection in Mexico, the story about returning to TV and then the latest story about the basement flooding in my new house. It's been tough keeping it to myself and not making any comment at all, especially when the stories have been leaked, however I had to. Now I know for certain which account / individual it's come from. I have saved and screenshotted all the original stories which clearly show just one person has viewed them. It's ……………. Rebekah Vardy's account"
The meaning attributed by Warby J:
Over a period of years Ms Vardy had regularly and frequently abused her status as a trusted follower of Ms Rooney's personal Instagram account by secretly informing The Sun newspaper of Ms Rooney's private posts and stories, thereby making public without Ms Rooney's permission a great deal of information about Ms Rooney, her friends and family which she did not want made public.Posted by: Adham Harker in: Defamation