Wagatha Christie: Why Rebekah Vardy & Coleen Rooney, wives of two English strikers, are in a court battle over Instagram posts

Wayne Rooney’s wife Coleen Rooney and Jamie Vardy’s wife Rebekah Vardy are fighting it out in court. Coleen has accused Rebekah of leaking stories to a tabloid; Rebekah is suing her for libel

Wagatha Christie: Why Rebekah Vardy & Coleen Rooney, wives of two English strikers, are in a court battle over Instagram posts

Coleen and Wayne Rooney arrive at the Royal Courts Of Justice, London, Thursday. A trial involving Coleen and Rebekah Vardy, one of whom publicly called out the other for allegedly leaking her private social media posts to a British tabloid newspaper, opened Tuesday in London. AP

It’s a multimillion-pound trial in the United Kingdom, a high-profile libel battle between Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy, the wives of two English footballers. It’s famously called the “Wagatha Christie” case or “WAGs (wives and girlfriends) at war”.

Both Coleen, 36, and Rebekah, 40, are personalities today but they first shot to fame because of their footballer spouses – Wayne Rooney, England and Manchester United’s leading goal scorer and Jamie Vardy, who famously fired Leicester City to the Premier League title. He made his England debut in 2015, coming on as a substitute for Rooney against the Republic of Ireland, reports BBC.

The trial opened on Tuesday and the two wives are going head-to-head at the High Court in London. It’s a case fit for the social media age and hopefully, by the end of it, we will know who leaked Coleen Rooney’s Instagram stories.

What’s the case about?

The case dates back to 2019. Coleen Rooney believed someone was leaking information about her to the UK tabloid The Sun and decided to carry out an “investigation” of her own.

She doubled up as an online detective and over a couple of months, made up stories and posted them on her Instagram account. She restricted who could see them and if they would appear in The Sun. They did, most of them – from her trip to Mexico for gender selection to the flooding in her basement.

Wagatha Christie Why Rebekah Vardy  Coleen Rooney wives of two English strikers are in a court battle over Instagram posts

Coleen Rooney, wife of former England footballer Wayne Rooney, put out fake posts on Instagram, which were leaked to a UK tabloid. She believes Rebekah Vardy was the one who passed on information about her to the paper. AFP

And Coleen then made the big reveal. In a long Twitter post, she wrote, “I blocked everyone from viewing my Instagram stories except One Account…”

“Now I know for certain which account / individual it’s come from. I have saved and screenshotted all the original stories which clearly show just one person has viewed them. It’s ……………. Rebekah Vardy’s account,” she declared.

It was film curator Phoebe Roberts who coined the phrase “Wagatha Christie” after Coleen’s post and it did catch on.

How did Rebekah Vardy react?

Rebekah denied that she was the source of stories published in The Sun. She immediately called up Coleen and was quick to publish a clarification that several people had access to her accounts.

“I never speak to anyone about you as various journalists who have asked me to over the years can vouch for. If you thought this was happening you could have told me and I could have changed passwords to see if it stopped. Over the years various people have had access to my insta and just this week I found out I was following people I didn’t know and have never followed myself,” said Rebekah in her defence.

She said she didn’t need the money from selling Coleen’s stories and was disgusted that she was “even having to deny this”.

So enraged was Rebekah that she filed a libel claim against Coleen in June 2020 after she did not apologise.

How guilty is Rebekah Vardy?

Coleen says she is right about the culprit and intends to prove that it was Rebekah Vardy who is responsible for the leaks.

Rebekah has rubbished the allegations calling them defamatory.

However, messages between Rebekah and her agent and friend Caroline Watt, which are likely to be central to the case, reveal the two discussing a car crash in January 2019, which Coleen suspects was leaked.

Rebekah Vardy said in a text, “Would love to leak those stories x”, but clarified later that it doesn’t mean she leaked anything.

After Coleen made the allegation in October 2019, Rebekah texted Watt to say, “That’s war.”

In reply, Watt told her, “You will have to say that you don’t speak to anyone about her but that recently your insta has even been following people you don’t follow. And she should come to you first and asked you about it. So you could have changed your password”, according to a report in The Evening Standard.

“Just say you have allowed a company to access it for sponsored posts and a former social media agency that you worked with too,” she added.

Wagatha Christie Why Rebekah Vardy  Coleen Rooney wives of two English strikers are in a court battle over Instagram posts

Rebekah Vardy wife of England footbal player Jamie Vardy arrives at the High Court in London. She sued for libel after Coleen Rooney accused her of sharing her private social media posts with The Sun newspaper. AP

Where does the case stand?

Judges have repeatedly asked Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy to settle the matter out of court but both have refused to budge.

Journalists at The Sun have also been dragged into the trial and have faced calls to reveal messages with Rebekah and Watt. A judge has said that reporter Andy Halls’ messages can be searched for evidence.

Interestingly, Watts’ phone was dropped into the sea during a boat trip, the high court was told. However, the agent said it would be of no use since she regularly deletes messages.

Rebekah’s WhatsApp conversations were lost while being exported to her lawyers and her husband Jamie Vardy’s system was hacked and his WhatsApp conversations wiped out. Also, a laptop used by Rebekah has broken down.

Watt was expected to be a witness in the trial but has said that she is too unwell to appear.

Whom does the trial favour?

Seven days have been set aside to hear the case in the court with Rebekah, Coleen, and Wayne Rooney all expected to give evidence.

Lawyer Jonathan Coad told BBC for Coleen Rooney to win the case, she will have to prove that it was Rebekah Vardy who was responsible for the leaks herself or ordered for them to be carried out.

Whoever wins will have to pay up a multimillion legal bill.

Media lawyer Jonathan Coad told the BBC that the legal costs for each side will be upwards of £1m and that even the winner will only recover about 70 per cent of their legal bill, leaving them with around £300,000 still to pay. If any damages are awarded, they are only likely to be in the £15,000 to £40,000 range.

With inputs from agencies

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