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Black Letter Communications Blog

Expert pr advice for the legal sector

A new level of vanity litigation

As PR disasters go, Rebekah Vardy suing Colleen Rooney for libel will take some beating. In terms of damaging your own reputation through vanity litigation Vardy has set a new gold standard.

Now at the outset I’d like to put on record that as a former tabloid hack and current legal PR, I am all for people having the right to both bring litigation or to defend yourself in court. But with the Wagatha Christie ‘trial of the decade’ I sat aghast at how it could ever have even come close to the High Court from a legal and a PR standpoint.

For those of you living on the moon for the past three years, Rooney was upset that one of her Instagram ‘friends’ was leaking, quite frankly, dull stories about her to The Sun. Rooney set a trap and, believing she had found her culprit, announced on social media that Vardy was the leaker extraordinaire. Rooney was quickly dubbed Wagatha Christie. Entertaining as this was did anybody care? Probably not. But Vardy, so affronted at the aspersions that she should do something as heinous as flog a story to The Sun decided to sue for libel.

Firstly, from a PR perspective Rooney did herself no real favours by childishly announcing the alleged culprit. Necessary? Not really. Attention seeking? Oh yes. But the catastrophic PR disaster was Vardy bringing the case in the first place and ultimately seeing it through to the bitter end.

Firstly, I cannot imagine she wouldn’t have had the best legal counsel money could buy. When reading the text messages between Vardy and her agent Caroline Watt did anyone on her team really think she would win? One text from Vardy to Miss Watt said she “would love to leak those stories” while discussing Rooney crashing her car.

Launching a libel case at the High Court – where anyone with half a brain knows has some of the finest judges in the world – with this evidence against you is surely pure folly. She was either terribly advised or unbelievably deluded. Wouldn’t it have been better to deny Rooney’s claims and let it go?

Secondly, when the world is in crisis, war is raging in Ukraine and ordinary working people are struggling to put the heating on or feed their children, did Vardy stop for one second to consider how bad this would look? Spending millions on a case over something that really doesn’t matter? I doubt it. You have to wonder if she received any legal PR or litigation PR advice.

Finally, we have to remember that Vardy could have pulled the plug at any point. She didn’t have to sue Rooney, no matter how upset she felt at her allegations. When she saw the evidence against her she could have pulled out, but chose to humiliate herself on the stand, playing the victim over something so vacuous that it made Love Island look intelligent.

Rooney? Well to be fair to her she didn’t have any choice but to fight her corner. In the end she also said the case should never have come to court and that she didn’t want any compensation. A rare moment of saying the right thing during a tawdry affair.

The epitaph to this? Vardy did an interview to protest her innocence. Where? The Sun. You couldn’t make it up.

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