IT is the bitter feud that has seen former friends fall out in furious style – and yesterday Becky Vardy hit out at the latest twist in her Coleen Rooney libel case.
In an explosive blog, 39-year-old Becky — who is suing Coleen over her “Wagatha Christie” accusations — reacted after learning her ex-husband was being called as a witness in their upcoming trial.
Describing it as a “dark turn”, she said reports that Steve Clarke, 56 — who she has previously accused of domestic violence — was preparing to give evidence against her had left her physically shaken.
Mum-of-five Becky, who was married to Steve for ten months from 2005, branded the development “victim shaming” and vowed: “I feel the time has come where I may need to start speaking out a little more.”
In a highly emotional 650-word post, she wrote: “It feels like a cruel threat to destroy the me that has survived. I have already been quite open about how mentally vulnerable the abuse I suffered has made me.
“This legal case has always been about clearing my name. I feel that these latest stories are victim shaming. It’s really important that women feel enabled to speak out about their experiences and not be shamed over them or have them used as a weapon against them.
“Speaking out provides support to the thousands of women who are trying to find the strength to break the cycles and leave their relationships.
“When it is used against you, whether in the media or by some other means, it hurts deeply and is frightening.
‘Extreme shaking and absolute tremors’
“I have support and I am strong as I can be, but I am disappointed that I’m being forced to face such headlines (whether they’re true or false).”
The Sun understands businessman Mr Clarke — who denies all accusations of domestic abuse — has provided a witness statement to Coleen’s lawyers and is likely to be relied upon as a witness when their libel trial begins in April at the High Court in London.
Last night, he said: “Becky is saying things that are completely and utterly untrue. I have never ever laid a hand on that woman ever. I have never laid a hand on a woman ever and never would I. I’m finding this very upsetting. It’s very hurtful and it’s causing me real problems.”
In her blog post, titled Trigger Warning — Domestic Violence And Coercive Control, Becky said reports of his involvement left her devastated. She began: “I don’t usually comment on anything to do with my legal case but over the last few weeks it has taken a rather dark turn. Reluctantly, I feel the time has come where I may need to start speaking out a little more.
“Recently, I was at home getting the children ready for bed when someone sent me a link to a story online. I hadn’t even read it, I just saw the photo at the top of the story and felt my skin start to prickle as the familiar feeling of adrenaline kicking in started to flow through my body.
“I felt myself going into that instant fight or flight mode that I know many victims of domestic abuse and coercive control will understand. This was later followed by extreme shaking, absolute tremors that are almost impossible to control until you somehow manage to calm yourself down.”
Becky, wife of Leicester City striker Jamie, 34, told how she used cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) techniques she had previously learnt. She continued: “Then I took a deep breath and went on to read a report claiming that my ex-husband from 16 years ago was being brought in by the ‘other side’ as a witness in our legal case.
“I have previously spoken out about the nature of our historic relationship. One of the many reasons why women do not come forward is a fear that they will not be believed, will face repercussions or that if they make a report they will have to face their abusers in court. Memories of domestic abuse stalk you through your entire life.
I have never ever laid a hand on that woman ever. I have never laid a hand on a woman ever and never would I. I’m finding this very upsetting.
“Sometimes the effects can stalk generations. It’s a cycle that has to be broken and it is hard work. Whatever the issues of this case are, the sensationalised reporting of how painfully entertaining it will be to watch me face the man I married in my early 20s in court . . . is totally inappropriate.“
She ended by offering her support to other victims of domestic abuse and told them: “My DMs are always open.” The dispute dates back to October 2019 when Coleen, 35, sensationally accused Becky of leaking personal stories about her.
New court documents obtained by The Sun now reveal the extraordinary lengths she went to in a bid to identify the leak within her inner circle. The papers say she began her clandestine operation in January 2019 after a rash of personal stories appeared in the Press.
She identified her private Instagram account as the source and sifted through 300 accounts of “trusted friends and family” before drawing up a list of possible suspects.
Coleen, wife of Manchester United and England legend Wayne, 36, focused on those who had “a track record or reputation” for leaking private information to the Press or “courting close links”. She then invented fake posts which were “interspersed with true or mundane ones” to give the impression that the account was operating normally.
She says all but five of the posts were only seen by Becky. The court documents detail the five exceptions, including two dummy runs in April 2019. Coleen said that only Becky and another individual saw the dummy run posts. But crucially she says she cannot recall the identity of the second person.
Another post was seen by former Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley, 32, while two others were seen by unidentified individuals. None of those posts led to a story being printed in the Press, according to the documents. The court papers add: “This led to her belief that it was the Claimant who was responsible for the leak, given her established history and habitual practice of providing private information to journalists and the Press.
“The Defendant had also heard rumours that the Claimant was responsible for similar leaks or disclosure of private information from other so-called Wags or celebrities.”
‘Escalating costs are grotesque’
Coleen claims Becky leaked information “for the purposes of self-promotion and for financial exploitation of her public profile”.
After the test run she says she blocked anyone from seeing her account except for Becky.
And she insists only Becky knew about the faked posts. Even hubby Wayne, now manager of Derby County, was kept in the dark. In her now infamous Wagatha Christie post in October 2019 she detailed her investigation and told her millions of followers: “It’s . . . Rebekah Vardy’s account.”
The pair’s libel battle is expected to kick-off next April.
Becky has budgeted to spend £837,735 fighting the case, in comparison to Coleen’s £537,029.
Coleen has previously described the escalating costs as “grotesque”.
Coleen claims Becky leaked information 'for the purposes of self-promotion and for financial exploitation of her public profile'.
The warring wags have met for mediation but failed to reach an agreement.
Coleen’s most recent offer would have seen both her and Becky each making “a substantial donation” to charity.
They would also commit to paying their own costs, a move known in legal circles as a “drop hands” settlement. And they would “agree to disagree” on the central claims made by Coleen in her social media post.
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