Wagatha Christie timeline: How the Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy row unfolded

·5-min read

After months of legal wrangling, the much anticipated “Wagatha Christie” high court libel trial is under way.

Here is how the public row between footballers’ wives Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy unfolded over the past two and a half years:

– September 2017 to October 2019 – The Sun newspaper runs a number of articles about Ms Rooney, including that she travelled to Mexico to look into baby “gender selection” treatment, her plan to revive her TV career and the flooding of her basement.

– October 9 2019 – Ms Rooney uses social media to accuse Ms Vardy of selling stories from her private Instagram account to the tabloids.

Ms Rooney says she spent five months attempting to work out who was sharing information about her and her family based on posts she had made on her personal social media page.

Coleen and Wayne Rooney leaving the Royal Courts Of Justice, London on 16 May (PA Wire)
Coleen and Wayne Rooney leaving the Royal Courts Of Justice, London on 16 May (PA Wire)

After sharing a series of “false” stories and using a process of elimination, Ms Rooney claims they were viewed by one Instagram account, belonging to Ms Vardy.

Ms Vardy, then pregnant with her fifth child, denies the allegations and says various people had access to her Instagram over the years.

She claims to be “so upset” by Ms Rooney’s accusation, later adding: “I thought she was my friend but she completely annihilated me.”

The public dispute makes headlines around the world, with the hashtag #WagathaChristie trending.

– February 13 2020 – In a tearful appearance on ITV’s Loose Women, Ms Vardy says the stress of the dispute caused her to have severe anxiety attacks and she “ended up in hospital three times”.

Ms Rooney says in a statement that she does not want to “engage in further public debate”.

– June 23 2020 – It emerges that Ms Vardy has launched libel proceedings against Ms Rooney.

Ms Vardy’s lawyers allege she “suffered extreme distress, hurt, anxiety and embarrassment as a result of the publication of the post and the events which followed”.

Rebekah Vardy, wife of Leiester City soccer player Jamie Vardy, arrives at the Royal Courts of Justice, in London on 17 May (REUTERS)
Rebekah Vardy, wife of Leiester City soccer player Jamie Vardy, arrives at the Royal Courts of Justice, in London on 17 May (REUTERS)

– November 19-20 2020 – The libel battle has its first high court hearing in London.

A judge rules that Ms Rooney’s October 2019 post “clearly identified” Ms Vardy as being “guilty of the serious and consistent breach of trust”.

Mr Justice Warby concludes that the “natural and ordinary” meaning of the posts was that Ms Vardy had “regularly and frequently abused her status as a trusted follower of Ms Rooney’s personal Instagram account by secretly informing The Sun of Mrs Rooney’s private posts and stories”.

– February 8-9 2022 – A series of explosive messages between Ms Vardy and her agent Caroline Watt – which Ms Rooney’s lawyers allege were about her – are revealed at a preliminary court hearing.

The court is told Ms Vardy was not referring to Ms Rooney when she called someone a “nasty bitch” in one exchange with Ms Watt.

Ms Rooney’s lawyers seek further information from the WhatsApp messages, but the court is told that Ms Watt’s phone fell into the North Sea after a boat she was on hit a wave, before further information could be extracted from it.

– February 14– Ms Rooney is refused permission to bring a high court claim against Ms Watt for misuse of private information to be heard alongside the libel battle.

A high Court judge, Ms Justice Steyn, says the bid was brought too late and previous opportunities to make the claim had not been taken.

– April 13– Ms Watt is not fit to give oral evidence at the upcoming libel trial, the high court is told as the case returns for another hearing.

The agent revokes permission for her witness statement to be used, and withdraws her waiver which would have allowed Sun journalists to say whether she was a source of the allegedly leaked stories.

- 10 May - Day one of the trial. Ms Vardy said she “deeply regrets” commenting on Peter Andre’s manhood, after telling a newspaper the ex-singer was “hung like a small chipolata”.

She made the remarks in 2004 and they brought up by Ms Rooney’s barrister David Sherborne in court on day one of the libel trial.

The Rooneys’ team accused Ms Vardy of hiring a leaks “hitman”. Mr Sherborne argued Ms Vardy was responsible for leaking stories even if she didn’t “get her hands dirty”.

-11 May- Day two of the trial. Ms Vardy admits to trying to leak a story about the arrest of drink-driving footballer Danny Drinkwater to the press.

In a gruelling day for Ms Vardy, she revealed that she had tried to obtain payment from The Sun for a story about Mr Drinkwater, and conceded that she had directed her agent to look at Coleen Rooney’s private Instagram account to obtain information.

– 12 May– Day three of the trial. Ms Vardy “appears to accept” that her agent was the source of allegedly leaked stories about the Rooneys, their barrister David Sherborne tells the high court.

He argues that a new witness statement submitted by Ms Vardy suggests Ms Watt was the source but Ms Vardy claims she “did not authorise or condone her”.

Ms Vardy’s lawyer Hugh Tomlinson says the statement did not contain “any change whatever in the pleaded case”, with her legal team having no communication with Ms Watt.

- 13 May - Day four of the trial. Ms Rooney took to the witness stand for the first time, telling the court that her plan to out Ms Vardy as the source of stories about her was a “last resort”.

- 16 May - Day five of the trial. Ms Rooney said that messages about her sent between Ms Vardy and her agent were “just evil” and “uncalled for”.

Finishing her cross-examination on Monday morning, Ms Rooney said that she has “hated every minute” of the legal proceedings.

- 17 May - Day six of the trial. Wayne Rooney takes to the witness stand for the first time. He told the court he asked Jamie Vardy, husband of Rebekah, to “calm down” his wife at the request of England manager Roy Hodgson during the Euros in 2016.

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