On 29 July 2022, Mrs Justice Steyn handed down judgment in the highest profile libel case of the year, Vardy v Rooney [2022] EWHC 2017 (QB). The libel claim was dismissed.

In a 75 page, 290 paragraph judgment the Judge held that the defendant, Coleen Rooney, had established her defence of “truth” and, as a result, the claim failed.  The alternative defence of “publication in the public interest” was unsuccessful.

The Judge noted that there was no dispute between the parties on the law and the decision was based on a detailed consideration of the factual chronology.

The Judge found that

“Ms Vardy was party to the disclosure to The Sun of the Marriage, Birthday, Halloween, Pyjamas, Car Crash, Gender Selection, Babysitting and Flooded Basement Posts. It is likely that Ms Watt undertook the direct act, in relation to each post, of passing the information to a journalist at The Sun. Nonetheless, the evidence analysed above clearly shows, in my view, that Ms Vardy knew of and condoned this behaviour, actively engaging in it by directing Ms Watt to the Private Instagram Account, sending her screenshots of Ms Rooney’s posts, drawing attention to items of potential interest to the press, and answering additional queries raised by the press via Ms Watt” [285].

The Judge rejected Ms Vardy’s evidence on a number of crucial points. However, she found that

Ms Vardy’s part in disclosing information to The Sun was … unthinking rather than part of a considered and concerted business practice [41].

and referred to Ms Vardy having

“a degree of justified resentment at the exaggerated way in which her role has at times been presented during the litigation”. [41]

The case has been extensively covered in the press and other media including

The Sun covered the decision on the front page and several inside pages of the newspaper without once mentioning that the libel complained of involved leaks to the Sun (see this thread from Dr Evan Harris)