A little over a year ago, Coleen Rooney, who is married to the English soccer player Wayne, unveiled one of the more explosive and seemingly successful Instagram schemes in recent memory. She’d been wondering how the contents of her private account had been making it into The Sun, but she had an idea of who was responsible for the leaks. She blocked everyone from viewing her Instagram Stories except for the suspect, so when the tabloid stories about her kept appearing, she said she had her answer—and delivered it, via her social media, in the now famous cadence:
“It’s ……….Rebekah Vardy’s account.”
Because Vardy’s husband is another English striker, Jamie, the revelation was even more tabloid-ready, and Rooney was instantly nicknamed “Wagatha Christie” in the press. But there was also a legal matter to resolve: Vardy sued Rooney for libel, and she has now won an initial victory. As The Guardian noted, Justice Mark Warby ruled on Friday that Rooney’s claim about Vardy would be read by an “ordinary reader” as a direct accusation that Vardy had “frequently abused her status as a trusted follower of Ms. Rooney’s personal Instagram account.”
Rooney’s lawyers had argued that her post only suggested that there were “reasonable grounds to suspect” Vardy, because someone else, such as a publicist or assistant, could’ve had access to Vardy’s account and leaked the stories. But Warby, like so many other readers, seems to have taken Rooney’s ellipsis to heart. “The element of suspense introduced by the multiple dots seems to me designed to raise expectations of a dramatic revelation,” he wrote in his ruling. “It would be a poor denouement if all that was being said was that the named individual was to be suspected of the wrongdoing, but it might be someone else.”
Rooney was ordered to pay Vardy nearly 23,000 British pounds in initial costs. There is another task at hand if she’s to win the case in the end, as The Guardian said. Rooney now has to show that it was Vardy herself who leaked the stories. The two have agreed to stay proceedings until February to make a last attempt at resolving the dispute without a full trial. Failing that, Rooney may have some more detective work to do.
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