Vardy suggests someone else with access to her Instagram account could have leaked stories to the Sun
Jim Waterson Media editor – The Guardian
Coleen Rooney (left) who has accused Rebekah Vardy (right) of selling stories from her private Instagram account to the Sun. Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA
Rebekah Vardy has said she is calling in forensic computer experts to examine who had access to her Instagram account following an extraordinary dispute with fellow footballer’s wife Coleen Rooney over the leaking of private information to the Sun.
Vardy, who was on holiday in Dubai with her footballer husband, Jamie, when the story broke, has denied claims that she provided the stories to the newspaper – despite apparently being caught in an elaborate sting operation that involved Rooney posting fake updates to see which appeared in the media.
She denies involvement, although her Instagram account already followed two of the Sun journalists who authored the disputed articles.
The Sun has run dozens of stories about Vardy in recent months, many of them exclusive and some of which were bylined by the same reporters who wrote the stories about Rooney, which were allegedly based on false information.
The paper has not officially commented on the stories, although it covered the row on its front page on Thursday and has emphasised that it followed standard journalistic practice in putting all the apparently fake stories to Rooney’s representatives before publication with a request for comment.
One source at the newspaper insisted they had not paid Vardy for stories about Coleen Rooney, although this does not rule out the possibility of another arrangement.
The dispute shines a light on tabloid practices at an unwelcome time for the Sun, which is already having to deal with its publisher, News Group Newspapers, being sued by Prince Harry for alleged phone-hacking offences. It also highlights how celebrities are increasingly able – and willing – to circumvent traditional media outlets and take them on directly.
Rooney, the wife of footballer Wayne, has been dubbed “WAGatha Christie” for her role in the investigation, after the “wives and girlfriends” moniker that was given to the partners of England footballers at the 2006 World Cup.
She published a series of fake news updates on her private Instagram account over the summer and slowly reduced their audience in a bid to identify the leaker. This led to apparently fake articles about Rooney seeking baby gender selection treatment in Mexico, a planned return to television, and a flood at her new-build mansion appearing in the Sun.
On Wednesday Rooney went public, claiming the only account that had viewed the story about the flood at her new home belonged to Vardy.
In response, Vardy has suggested that someone else with access to her Instagram account may have been responsible for passing on information.
Her representative briefed MailOnline that she has hired “IT experts who can look at the forensics of her Instagram” to identify who else had access in an attempt to clear her name, although it unclear exactly what this forensic analysis would involve. Vardy’s agent did not return a request for comment.
The model Danielle Lloyd, herself the former partner of a footballer, on Thursday told ITV’s Good Morning Britain that she had previously had run-ins “over similar things” with Vardy, also appearing to accuse Vardy of being the author of a Sun on Sunday column entitled “Secret WAG”.
On Thursday Vardy called the new claims “bollocks” and said: “I’m not saying anything more until we’ve finished looking into this situation properly.”