Rebekah Vardy’s budget of almost £900,000 for her libel court case has been described as “grotesque” by Coleen Rooney, the High Court has heard.
Vardy, who is married to Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy, is suing Rooney for libel over a statement posted on social media accusing her of leaking false stories about her private life, which quickly became dubbed the “Wagatha Christie” case.
Details of the costs and budgets for the case were revealed during a virtual preliminary session attended by barristers for the two women on Tuesday, with Judge Roger Eastman describing both as “extraordinarily large”.
During the hearing, John Samson, representing Rooney, 34, asked the court to “reject the claimant’s cost budget and ask them to review it because, in the words of my lay client, it is grotesque”.
He told the judge that the sums involved were “huge” and that “the claimant’s budget to date, including incurred costs, is double that of the defendant”.
In Vardy’s written skeleton argument, submitted to the court, her barrister Sara Mansoori said her overall budget was “£897,000, the estimated costs of which are £465,842.
“This compares to Mrs Rooney’s estimated costs in her cost budget of £402,312.”
Ms Mansoori said Vardy’s budget “reflects the complexity, scope and scale of the legal and factual issues”.
She continued: “Mrs Vardy’s cost budget reflects the very serious nature of the highly damaging defamatory allegation made against her – which continues to be published by Mrs Rooney.
“It has caused enormous distress to Mrs Vardy and led to her being targeted by hostile and abusive online messages, as well as causing extreme upset and anxiety to members of her family.
“It was necessary to take steps to seek to understand the allegations made by Mrs Rooney, which involved technical expertise, as well as to seek to resolve the dispute.
“Regrettably this was not possible and further costs have been incurred in pursuing the claim to this stage.”
Judge Eastman asked for the parties to try to settle the case, and gave them until June to file revised cost budgets.
The row between the two women erupted in October 2019, when Rooney accused Vardy, 39, of leaking stories to the press after carrying out a months-long “sting operation” on Instagram.
She claimed she had planted three fake stories about herself on her personal account, but made them visible only to Vardy.
She alleged these false stories – about travelling to Mexico to find out about gender selection, making a return to TV, and the basement flooding at her new house – had been shared with The Sun newspaper.
Revealing her allegation on social media at the time, Rooney, who is married to former England star Wayne Rooney, said: “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.
“I have saved and screenshotted all the original stories which clearly show just one person has viewed them.
“It’s ……………. Rebekah Vardy’s account.”
Vardy denies the accusations and is suing Rooney for damages for libel.
During the hearing on Tuesday, Ms Mansoori also told the court that Vardy is going to apply to strike out parts of Rooney’s defence, unless they are withdrawn.
This “huge number of additional matters” does not “relate to the defamatory allegations in issue”, and should be removed from the defence, the court was told.
An attempt at mediation, to try to resolve the case without a trial, took place earlier this year, the court heard on Tuesday.