Footballer Jamie Vardy’s phone may now be inspected as part of his wife Rebekah’s libel battle with Coleen Rooney, a judge at the High Court has ruled.
Mrs Rooney, 35, accused Mrs Vardy, 39, of leaking “false stories” about her private life in October 2019 after carrying out a months-long “sting operation”.
The wife of former England star Wayne Rooney, dubbed “Wagatha Christie”, publicly claimed her fellow footballer’s wife shared fake stories she had posted on her personal Instagram account with The Sun newspaper.
Mrs Vardy, who is married to Leicester City striker Jamie, denies the accusations and is suing Mrs Rooney for libel.
At a preliminary hearing on Wednesday, the High Court heard both women will be using experts to analyse the Instagram data on relevant devices ahead of the trial.
However, the pair had not agreed on the scope of which devices, including phones, tablets or computers, should be included.
The court previously heard that other people had accessed Mrs Vardy’s Instagram account, including her assistant Caroline Watt, Mr Vardy and his social media manager.
Sara Mansoori, for Mrs Vardy, said her legal team was “taking steps” to make the third-party Instagram data available for the court and denied any secrecy.
She continued: “There is no difference in approach in terms of what Mrs Vardy is expecting and what she is prepared to provide.”
However, Mrs Rooney’s barrister John Samson said Mrs Vardy’s request was “unduly and severely restrictive”.
He told the court: “There is a double standard here that is clear… that won’t do. The inference is that a secrecy filter is now being applied to documents.”
He added: “(It) is very restricted and does not deal with access to the Instagram account by others.”
In written arguments, Mr Samson continued: “As well as the connections between private content on (Mrs Rooney’s) Instagram account and articles in The Sun newspaper, the case will turn on the length of time, regularity and frequency of the access to the defendant’s Instagram account made from accounts connected to the claimant.
“This data is wider and deeper than the data available on individual personal devices.”
Judge Roger Eastman concluded that the Instagram experts should be allowed to access data from other devices that had used Mrs Vardy’s account, which could include her husband’s phone or computer.
He said: “In order for the expert to explore what has gone on … they need to have access to more than just the personal devices of Mrs Vardy and Mrs Rooney.
“The outreach and depth with which Instagram matters circulate, and can be circulated, is rather wider than that.”
The judge continued: “That may well involve access to other people’s devices, rather than just Mrs Rooney and Mrs Vardy’s devices.
“In light of the fact Mrs Vardy has given access (to her Instagram) to Ms Watt and her husband, it seems to me at least they and their devices are, for the purposes of disclosure, within her possession and control.
“Whether Ms Mansoori likes it or not, for the purpose of instructing the experts … their devices are up for grabs for inspection and analysis by the experts.”
Judge Eastman later indicated the full trial in the case will take place next year.
“I think it is a good idea to get this over with as soon as possible,” he added.