Wagatha Christie trial result: Coleen Rooney wins court case against Rebekah Vardy

·7-min read
Wagatha Christie trial result: Coleen Rooney wins court case against Rebekah Vardy

Coleen Rooney has won her epic High Court battle with Rebekah Vardy after a judge ruled her ‘Wagatha Christie’ accusations about leaks to the media were true.

Rooney, 36, sparked the WAG wars in 2019 with a bombshell accusation that Vardy, 40, had been secretly feeding private social media news to The Sun newspaper.

The now-infamous post by Rooney revealed she had conducted a months-long investigation into the source of the leaks, suspecting one of her friends or contacts was responsible and concluding by saying: “It’s ……….Rebekah Vardy’s account.”

Vardy immediately launched a furious offensive against the claim, insisting she had never leaked stories to the media and criticising Rooney for going public with the accusation.

But in a disastrous escalation of the row Vardy sued for libel, bringing damaging messages between her and agent Caroline Watt into the public domain.

At the High Court on Friday, Mrs Justice Steyn delivered her ruling on the blockbuster libel battle, concluding Rooney had been right to point the finger at Vardy.

She said Vardy was involved in a string of leaks of stories to The Sun, ruling: “It is likely that Ms Watt undertook the direct act…of passing the information to a journalist at The Sun.

“Nonetheless, the evidence analysed above clearly shows, in my view, that Ms Vardy knew of and condoned this behaviour, actively engaging in it by directing Ms Watt to (Rooney’s) private Instagram Account, sending her screenshots of Ms Rooney’s posts, drawing attention to items of potential interest to the press, and answering additional queries raised by the press via Ms Watt.”

Concluding Rooney’s accusation was “substantially true”, the judge added: “The information disclosed was not deeply confidential, and it can fairly be described as trivial, but it does not need to be confidential or important to meet the sting of the libel.

“It was information derived from private posts that Ms Rooney did not want made public.”

Coleen and Wayne Rooney leaving the Royal Courts Of Justice during the trial (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Wire)
Coleen and Wayne Rooney leaving the Royal Courts Of Justice during the trial (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Wire)

After the ruling, Rooney said she bears “no ill-will” against Vardy.

She said: "Naturally, I am pleased that the judge has found in my favour with her judgment today.

"It was not a case I ever sought or wanted. I never believed it should have gone to court at such expense in times of hardship for so many people when the money could have been far better spent helping others.

"Both before and after my social media posts in October 2019, I made every effort to avoid the need for such a drawn out and public court case. All my attempts to do so were knocked back by Mrs (Rebekah) Vardy.

"This left me with no alternative but to go through with the case to defend myself and to end the repeated leaking of my private information to The Sun.

"These leaks from my private Instagram account began in 2017. They continued for almost two years, intruding on my privacy and that of my family. Although I bear Mrs Vardy no ill-will, today's judgment makes clear that I was right in what I said in my posts of October 2019.

"Finally, I would like to thank all of my legal team, my family, friends and everyone who supported me, including the public, through this difficult and stressful time."

In her own statement Vardy said: “I am extremely sad and disappointed at the decision that the judge has reached.

"It is not the result that I had expected, nor believe was just. I brought this action to vindicate my reputation and am devastated by the judge's finding.

"The judge accepted that publication of Coleen's post was not in the 'public interest' and she also rejected her claim that I was the 'Secret Wag'.

"But as for the rest of her judgement, she got it wrong and this is something I cannot accept."

The feud between Rooney and Vardy, the wives of England strikers Wayne and Jamie, was simmering in secret at the start of 2019, when Rooney suspected a leak.

‘Wagatha Christie’ libel battle between Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney Wagatha Christie’ at the Royal Courts Of Justice, London

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On her private Instagram account where only selected friends and associates could see the content, she would post personal updates relating to Wayne and their children.

Rooney noticed leaked information to The Sun newspaper and sent two warning shots to her followers, calling out the “grass” responsible.

She then launched a sting operation to catch the culprit, posting fake social media updates and whittling down her followers until only Vardy was left.

Bogus stories planted by Rooney – about baby gender selection and having a flooded basement - made headline news and Vardy was confirmed as the prime suspect.

Rooney instantly attracted the nickname “Wagatha Christie” when her sleuthing was revealed and went viral in October 2019. She told the High Court: “It wasn’t hard, anyone could do it”, but admitted the scandal had spiralled out of control.

“At the time of doing it, it was important, but I feel in public it’s been made a lot bigger than what it was”, she said.

Vardy’s denial at the time was insistent – she would never leak stories to the media and was not to blame.

During the trial she likened Rooney to a “school bully” and broke down in tears as she described the torrent of online abuse she had faced, at a time when she was heavily pregnant.

But Vardy also had to face questions about whether she had leaked information to the media about her husband’s teammates Danny Drinkwater and Riyad Mahrez, as well as texts with Ms Watt branding Rooney an “attention seeker” and “desperate”.

Vardy claimed she was “absolutely just joking” when she told her agent to leak a story about a married TV star’s affair, but accepted she had tried to pass information on Drinkwater’s drink drive arrest to a journalist, telling Ms Watt: “I want paying for this”.

In the ruling, Vardy was found to be involved in eight leaks to The Sun about Rooney.

She was also accused of staging paparazzi photos without asking for permission from other England team WAGs.

When Rooney complained about a car crash story ending up in the news, Ms Watt messaged Vardy to say the source of the leak “wasn’t someone she trusted. It was me”.

Vardy, whose case relied on her not knowing about media leaks, told the court she had been distracted from the WhatsApp message by Gemma Collins falling over on Dancing on Ice.

The wealth of messages emerged despite an extraordinary series of incidents where phone and computer data was lost before it could be disclosed to Rooney’s legal team, and Ms Watt said she dropped her phone off the side of a boat and into the North Sea.

Ms Watt ultimately did not give evidence in the trial on health grounds, leaving Rooney’s team to accuse Vardy of a “cover-up” of potentially incriminating evidence.

The judge, in her ruling, said “the likelihood that the loss Ms Watt describes was accidental is slim”, and concluded that Vardy had deliberately deleted messages.

The High Court trial drew attention from around the world, as Coleen and her football manager husband sat just feet away from Vardy in the wood-panelled courtroom.

Singer Peter Andre was drawn into the whirlwind early on, when Vardy was questioned about an old kiss-and-tell newspaper story in which she had ridiculed the size of his “chipolata” manhood.

The inside of the England camp was also thrust into the spotlight, when Wayne Rooney claimed he had given Jamie Vardy a talking-to about his wife’s media antics during Euro 2016.

In response, Jamie Vardy issued a statement calling Rooney’s evidence “nonsense”. But he stayed away from the witness box.

Coleen Rooney said she repeatedly tried to settle the libel action out of court, but talks failed. Following her defeat, Vardy may now face a multimillion pound costs bill.

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