Wagatha Christie: Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy set to do battle as libel trial begins

All you need to know as the High Court libel trial involving the two footballers’ wives gets underway this week

Chiara Giordano
Sunday 15 May 2022 12:59
<p>Rebekah Vardy is suing Coleen Rooney after she accused her of selling stories from her private Instagram account to a tabloid</p>

Rebekah Vardy is suing Coleen Rooney after she accused her of selling stories from her private Instagram account to a tabloid

The high-profile libel case between footballers’ wives Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy is finally set to begin at the High Court.

Ms Rooney, 36, is being sued for defamation by Ms Vardy, 40, after she publicly accused the latter of being the source of stories about her that were leaked to The Sun newspaper.

The trial is set to start on Tuesday on London and is expected to last several days.

Here’s everything you need to know.

How it all began:

The saga began on 19 October 2019 when Ms Rooney took to Twitter to accuse Ms Vardy of leaking stories about her private life after a months-long “sting operation”.

Ms Rooney, the wife of former England star Wayne Rooney, claimed Ms Vardy had shared fake stories she posted on her personal Instagram account with The Sun.

Ms Rooney explained in a tweeted statement that she had become concerned posts from her private Instagram account were being passed to the tabloid and turned into stories.

In a bid to reveal the culprit, she explained she had restricted access to who could see her posts and posted three bogus “stories” about travelling to Mexico to explore gender selection treatment, being in negotiations to appear on the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing and the family suffering flood damage to their £20m mansion. She said all three false stories had been shared with The Sun.

Ms Vardy, seven months pregnant and on holiday in Dubai at the time, responded that same day with a strong denial, chastising her accuser for not coming to her first with the complaint and rejecting the idea that she needed either the money or the exposure.

Ms Rooney was dubbed “Wagatha Christie” for her whodunnit cunning in honour of the legendary British crime novelist Agatha, while Ms Vardy gave birth to a daughter on 28 December 2019.

On 12 June 2020, Ms Vardy filed her application to sue Ms Rooney for libel with the High Court.

Her lawyers argued the affair had caused her mental and physical distress and had meant the family could no longer attend Leicester games together because of the abuse they received from rival fans.

The Key Players:

Coleen Rooney

Coleen Rooney and her husband Wayne

Coleen Rooney, 36, is the wife of former England and Manchester United star Wayne Rooney, who now manages Derby County.

The couple both grew up in the Liverpool suburb of Croxteth, where they met as 12 year olds and began dating at 16.

They married in Portofino, Italy, in June 2008 and now live in Cheshire with their four sons Kai, Klay, Kit and Cass.

Ms Rooney has previously written columns for magazines Closer and OK! and has published a number of books including an autobiography and style guides.

She had her own ITV series called Coleen’s Real Women and in 2005 released an exercise DVD which became a UK bestseller.

Rebekah Vardy

Rebekah Vardy with her husband Jamie

Rebekah Vardy, 40, from Norwich, is married to Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy.

They met in 2014 while Ms Vardy was working as a nightclub promoter and married in May 2016 at Peckforton Castle, in Cheshire.

Ms Vardy has five children including daughter Megan and son Taylor from a previous relationship with footballer Luke Foster, and daughters Sofia and Oliva Grace and son Finlay with Vardy. She is also step-mother to Jamie’s daughter Ella from a previous relationship.

She has previously worked as a model and appeared on reality shows, including I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here and Dancing On Ice.

Caroline Watt

Caroline Watt, 39, has been Ms Vardy’s agent for seven years and is also her friend.

She was previously employed by talent agency The Frontrow Partnership but left in 2019 to fly solo and kept Ms Vardy as a client.

Ms Watt is married to former footballer Steve Watt who briefly played for Chelsea and now manages non-league team Hythe Town. They have two children together.

WhatsApp messages exchanged between Ms Vardy and Ms Watt have been discussed in pre-trial hearings, including one in with Ms Vardy allegedly to Ms Rooney as a “nasty b***”.

A hearing was previously told evidence from Ms Watt’s phone was not available because the device had fallen into the North Sea after a boat she was on hit a wave shortly after the court ordered it should be searched.

Ms Rooney’s lawyers previously claimed Ms Vardy leaked information to The Sun either directly or through Ms Watt “acting on her instruction or with her knowing approval”.

Ms Watt will not be called on to give oral evidence during the trial as she is said to be in a “fragile state” and deemed “not fit” to provide evidence.

The Royal Courts of Justice in London (PA)

The Court Case

On 12 June 2020, Ms Vardy filed her application to sue Ms Rooney for libel with the High Court, the complainant’s lawyers arguing that the affair had caused her mental and physical distress and had meant the family could no longer attend Leicester games together because of the abuse they received from rival fans.

Following a preliminary hearing at the High Court, with neither woman in attendance, Justice Warby ruled on 20 November in favour of Ms Vardy and allowed the case to continue, finding that Ms Rooney’s tweet “clearly identified” Ms Vardy as being “guilty of the serious and consistent breach of trust that she alleges” and ordering Ms Rooney to pay £23,000 in legal costs.

The pair were given until 8 February 2021 to make an attempt to mediate their case but failed to find a solution and declined to settle out of court.

The trial continues.

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