Rebecca Vardy is unable to reveal the potentially crucial WhatsApp messages in the ongoing “Wagatha Christie” legal case because an IT expert “forgot the password” to the data.
Vardy is suing fellow footballer Colin Rooney’s wife for defamation after Rooney claimed publicly that Vardy leaked private information to the Sun. The wife of Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy has strongly denied the allegations made by Derby County’s partner, Wayne Rooney.
Lawyers representing Rooney want to compel Vardy to reveal conversations with her agent, Caroline Watt, who they claim acted as a “conductor” relaying stories to reporters at The Sun. However, Rooney’s team said they were frustrated by a “chain of unfortunate events” as they tried to access the messages.
Attorney David Sherburne, on behalf of Rooney, told the Supreme Court that Vardy had hired an outside tech expert to help back up her mobile phone messages as part of the legal process.
Unfortunately, the IT expert tasked with securing the material has since “forgotten the password he used to encrypt the material”. Sherburne said that meant the letters could not be revealed to Rooney’s lawyers prior to trial, leaving the legal team struggling to make their case.
Sarah Mansour QC, on behalf of Vardy, confirmed to the court that there was a “corruption issue” with the password required to access the data that was on Vardy’s phone.
It is the latest data retrieval issue to affect the long-running legal case. A previous Supreme Court hearing heard how Watt accidentally dropped her cell phone from the side of a boat in the North Sea after Rooney’s lawyers demanded that it be searched.
Dubbed ‘Wagatha Christie’ after a complex surgery where she put fake updates on a private Instagram account and waited to see if they would end up as news stories, Rooney was nicknamed ‘Wagatha Christie’.
The long-running legal case will revolve around whether Rooney was able to prove that Vardy was leaking the information to the Sun. A key part of Rooney’s case is that Watt has acted as a “conduit” for such stories, despite her legal team’s recent failure to attempt to formally add the agent to legal proceedings.
On Wednesday, the court heard that Watt was “in a fragile state and was expressing serious concerns about testifying”. Hugh Tomlinson QC, acting on behalf of Vardy, said a forensic psychiatric consultant submitted a report that concluded that the attorney was unfit to give oral evidence at the high trial.
Rooney’s lawyers insisted that Watt was a “key witness” for the trial with “crucial” evidence: “Ms. Watt now says she is too ill to appear in court to be questioned about the events and allegations relating to her, even though she was and was able to give a lengthy witness statement. about them, provided they are not questioned about them.”
They claimed that the real reason behind Watt’s reluctance to take the stand and testify was not her psychological state but that she realized that “her testimony is incorrect and therefore she is afraid to be tested”.
Rooney scored a partial victory on Wednesday after a judge ordered the owner of The Sun newspaper to disclose contacts between Vardy, Watt and journalist Andy Halls to legal teams. The judge said Hals was the author of one of the “alleged articles” that appeared in the defamation dispute and concluded that disclosure in relation to the journalist was “necessary” and “proportionate.”
She said she was “not convinced” that the legal tests had been conducted to allow the disclosure of eight other Sun journalists.
The case has already cost millions of pounds in legal fees but neither Rooney nor Vardy was willing to settle it, despite judges asking them to reach a mediation conclusion. Unless there is a last-minute change of position by either side, the defamation case is due to go to trial in the Supreme Court next month.