The libel trial between Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney is due to begin on Tuesday, May 10.
Mrs Rooney accused Mrs Vardy’s Instagram account of leaking “false stories” about her private life to the media in October 2019 after carrying out a months-long “sting operation”. The wife of former Everton star Wayne Rooney was dubbed ‘Wagatha Christie’ when she claimed that Mrs Vardy shared fake stories with The S*n newspaper in a statement posted to Twitter on October 9, 2019.
Mrs Rooney said she published fake stories on her personal Instagram account and set it so that only Mrs Vardy’s account could see them. Her statement posted to Twitter began: “For a few years now someone who I trusted to follow me on my personal Instagram account has been consistently informing The S*n newspaper of my private posts and stories.”
The statement finished with: “It’s Rebekah Vardy’s account.” Mrs Vardy, who is married to Wayne Rooney’s former England teammate Jamie Vardy, denies the accusations and is suing Mrs Rooney for libel.
The trial will begin next week. In written submissions to the High Court before the trial begins, Mrs Rooney ‘s barrister claimed that Mrs Vardy “appears to accept” that her agent was the source of leaked stories that were published in The S*n.
Mrs Vardy believes Caroline Watt may have been the source, according to lawyer David Sherborne. Representing Mrs Vardy in the High Court is barrister Hugh Tomlinson QC.
Who is Hugh Tomlinson QC?
Born in Leeds in 1954, Oxford-educated Hugh Tomlinson was called to the bar in 1983 and became a QC (Queen’s Counsel) 19 years later. He specialises in media law and has represented a number of high-profile clients in privacy cases.
Prince Charles was represented by Mr Tomlinson in his 2006 case against Associated Newspapers. The Mail on Sunday had published extracts about the handover of Hong Kong from the Prince’s diaries but the High Court ruled the newspaper was wrong to do so. Mr Tomlinson described arguments that the publication of the journals was in the public interest as being “far-fetched”.
The QC is also known for his work with super injunctions. He was profiled in the Guardian in 2011 in a piece headlined: “Injunctions row: Meet the man who helps celebrities remain anonymous”.
He represented Ryan Giggs in a High Court case against The S*n, after the newspaper published details of a relationship between the former Wales manager and Imogen Thomas. Additionally, the QC successfully represented publishing house Harper Collins when the BBC wished to prevent racing driver Ben Collins’ memoirs revealing that he was Top Gear’s The Stig.
Mr Tomlinson represented Sienna Miller when she was awarded £100,000 damages from the News of the World after it admitted liability over phone hacking. He also worked with campaign group Hacked Off and spoke at the Leveson inquiry.
Most notably, he was at the centre of the campaign to reveal information relating to MPs’ expenses. The barrister represented freedom of information campaigners and said that the House of Commons would have broken the law if it proceeded with a plan to release a censored version of expenses claims.
In March of this year, Conservative MP Bob Seely used parliamentary privilege to name people who he claimed were working on behalf of Russian oligarchs. Hugh Tomlinson, who had represented Roman Abramovich in a libel claim, was among those named.
Mr Tomlinson co-founded Matrix Chambers, who are based in London. His entry on their website reads: “A doyen of media law, razor-sharp and one of the most respected and revered barristers in this area.”