WAGS at war: Everything you need to know as Rooney and Vardy do battle in ‘Wagatha Christie’ High Court trial

·8-min read
Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy (PA) (PA Archive)
Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy (PA) (PA Archive)

Coleen Rooney dropped her ‘Wagatha Christie’ bombshell against Rebekah Vardy more than two-and-a-half years ago, choosing International Curious Events Day to set the internet alight.

Now the warring WAGs are set to go head-to-head at the High Court in London, to finally settle a mystery suited to the 21th Century social media age – the curious case of Rooney’s leaked Instagram stories.

How did it all start?

On October 9, 2019, Rooney took to Twitter to reveal the results of an investigation she had been conducting for months and unleash a furious footballers’ wives war that no one saw coming.

She believed a friend or acquaintance had been leaking stories about her and her family to The Sun newspaper, and hatched a cunning plan to work out who it was. This is what she wrote:

“For a few years now someone who I trusted to follow me on my personal Instagram account has been consistently informing The SUN newspaper of my private posts and stories.There has been so much information given to them about me, my friends and my family – all without my permission or knowledge.After a long time of trying to figure out who it could be, for various reasons, I had a suspicion.To try and prove this, I came up with an idea. I blocked everyone from viewing my Instagram stories except ONE account. (Those on my private account must have been wondering why I haven’t had stories on there for a while.)Over the past five months I have posted a series of false stories to see if they made their way into the Sun newspaper. And you know what, they did! The story about gender selection in Mexico, the story about returning to TV and then the latest story about the basement flooding in my new house.It’s been tough keeping it to myself and not making any comment at all, especially when the stories have been leaked, however I had to. 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”

What happened next?

File photos of Coleen Rooney (left) who has accused Rebekah Vardy (right) of selling stories from her private Instagram account to the tabloid (Martin Rickett/Adam Davy/PA) (PA Archive)
File photos of Coleen Rooney (left) who has accused Rebekah Vardy (right) of selling stories from her private Instagram account to the tabloid (Martin Rickett/Adam Davy/PA) (PA Archive)

Vardy came out fighting, and after apparently calling Rooney herself she issued a statement denying being the source of a leak:

"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. I’m not being funny but I don’t need the money, what would I gain from selling stories on you? I liked you a lot a Coleen and I’m so upset that you have chosen to do this, especially when I’m heavily pregnant. I’m disgusted that I’m even having to deny this. You should have called me the first time this happened."

The multi-million pound court battle begins

Rebekah Vardy filed a libel claim against Rooney in June 2020, setting the scene for a court battle which is estimated to have swallowed up £3 million in legal costs as it had edged ever closer to a full-blown trial.

Rebekah Vardy (Joe Giddens/PA) (PA Archive)
Rebekah Vardy (Joe Giddens/PA) (PA Archive)

In November 2020, Mr Justice Warby ruled on the meaning of Rooney’s Twitter allegation – which had earned her the Wagatha Christie tag and which remains online to this day:

“Over a period of years the Claimant had regularly and frequently abused her status as a trusted follower of the Defendant’s personal Instagram account by secretly informing The Sun newspaper of the Defendant’s private posts and stories, thereby making public without the Defendant’s permission a great deal of information about the Defendant, her friends and family which she did not want made public”

This meaning left Rooney with the task of proving that Vardy herself had been involved in the leaking of stories to The Sun.

What kind of stories were being leaked?

In September 2017, Rooney posted on her private Instagram feed a picture of her children, with the text: “No matter where I am they always follow em, and I hope that lasts forever”. The following day, a Sun story appears alleging marriage troubles.

The following month she posted on to Instagram a picture of husband Wayne and their children in matching pyjamas, and on November 1 The Sun ran a story that mentioned a picture of “Wayne cuddling up to their three sons” while “wearing matching pyjamas”.

Coleen Rooney (Peter Byrne/PA) (PA Archive)
Coleen Rooney (Peter Byrne/PA) (PA Archive)

And in January 2019, an article appeared in The Sun about a car crash, which Rooney suspected of being leaked.

Spotting a trend, Rooney laid a trap on her Instagram feed, posting stories that she knew were untrue to a dwindling band of private followers, to see if they made their way into the news.

Posts about gender selection and a trip to Mexico appear, followed in August 2019 with a Sun article headlined: “COL’S BABY GIRL BID Coleen Rooney travelled to Mexico to look into £8k ‘gender selection’ treatment in desperate bid to have baby girl”.

More Instagram posts follow, which are allegedly only seen by Vardy’s account, featuring bogus stories about a flooded basement at the Rooney home and Coleen’s TV career. The Sun stories that were published will be at the heart of the trial.

Where are the battle lines drawn?

Coleen says her Wagatha Christie post was, like the author’s famous detectives, absolutely right about the culprit – it was Rebekah Vardy’s account, and she intends to prove that it was Vardy herself.

In response, Vardy says she has been maligned by her former friend, claiming the allegation was false and defamatory.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Pre-trial skirmishes have revealed uncomfortable messages exchanged between Vardy and her agent and friend Caroline Watt, which are set to be central to the case.

In January 2019, Vardy and Watt were discussing the Rooney car crash and Vardy commented in texts: “she’s a nasty bitch x” – a remark she claims was aimed at someone other than Rooney. She also added: “Would love to leak those stories x”, but says that doesn’t not mean she actually leaked anything.

In a message, Watt told Vardy: “I would have tried to have done a story on Coleen but the evidence has been deleted”, which Rooney suggests betrays the nature of their relationship with the media.

Rooney was harbouring suspicions of a leak months before the bombshell Twitter post, and at one point unfollowed Vardy on Instagram. Vardy asks Watt: “U seen Coleen’s Twitter”, and the agent replies “Such a victim. Poor Coleen…And it wasn’t someone she trusted. It was me”.

 (PA)
(PA)

The following month, in February 2019, Watt tells her friend: “If she does try to say it or that it was me and it’s undeniably obvious what we’ll do is say I left the company I was working for in jan and one of the girls in the office has my old laptop that had your passwords saved on it so it will have been them and now you will have to change everything.”

When, in October 2019, the allegation is made by Rooney, Vardy texts Watt to say: “That’s war”.

In reply, Watt tells 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.

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

Who is the Secret WAG?

Part of Rooney’s defence to the libel claim will centre on her suspicions that Vardy was selling stories to The Sun newspaper, including for a short-lived ‘Secret WAG’ column.

Texts between Vardy and Watt reveal her frustration at The Sun not buying her pictures, saying: “I’m getting annoyed with them still saying no! Are they never going to have anything while that other thing is running…We still need to make money”.

 (PA)
(PA)

Vardy denies “that other thing” was the Secret WAG column, and is due to face tough questions about her relationship with the media.

Journalists at The Sun, including showbiz reporter Andy Halls, have also been dragged into the toxic row, and have faced calls to reveal their messages and contacts with Vardy and her agent. A judge has already said Mr Halls’ messages can be searched for evidence, but editor Victoria Newton and other reporters were spared the same treatment.

Vardy is also accused of tipping off a paparazzi photographer to get a picture of WAGs during the 2018 World Cup, apparently while not telling those who would be pictured.

And she faces a claim that she leaked news of Vardy’s Leicester teammate Danny Drinkwater’s arrest for drink driving.

The mystery of the missing messages

A hallmark of the pre-trial battles has been a series of calamitous events which have apparently befallen electronic devices belonging to Vardy and her associates.

Watt’s phone was dropped into the North Sea during a boat trip, the High Court was told, though Watt says it would have been useless anyway as she routinely deletes messages.

At around the same time, records of Vardy’s WhatsApp conversations were lost while being exported to her lawyers, she says. And husband Jamie Vardy’s WhatsApp system was hacked, wiping out his conversations.

Coleen’s bombshell post about Rebekah Vardy’s account (Twitter)
Coleen’s bombshell post about Rebekah Vardy’s account (Twitter)

Plus, a laptop allegedly used by Vardy had also broken down, as Rooney’s side raised their eyebrows at a “series of unfortunate events”.

Watt was due to be a key witness in the battle, but has been declared too unwell to come to court.

Could this all be settled out of court?

Vardy has top QC Hugh Tomlinson on her side, while Rooney is represented by David Sherborne, who counts Johnny Depp and the Duchess of Sussex among his notable past clients.

Both sides have been urged to settle the case before trial, but a period of mediation ultimately came to nothing.

Seven days at the High Court have been set aside from Tuesday to hear the case, with Vardy, Rooney, and her husband Wayne all rumoured to be giving evidence.

The trial is expected to take a deep-dive into the shadowy world of leaks to newspapers, private social media sniping, and WAGs vying for attention in the national press.

Whoever loses will take home a multimillion pound legal bill, while the winner will have bragging rights. But both may emerge on the other side of this ‘curious event’, wondering if it was all worth it.

Who is Rebekah Vardy?

Rebekah Vardy is a model and TV personality married to Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy,

She appeared on I’m A Celebrity in 2017 before later appearing on Dancing On Ice in 2021, as well as making appearances on Loose Women.

Ms Vardy and her husband recently wrote a children’s book with her husband, entitled Cedric The Little Sloth With A Big Dream, which follows a little sloth who hopes to become a footballer.

She 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.

Who is Coleen Rooney?

Coleen Rooney is famously married to ex-Manchester United and England forward Wayne Rooney.

The pair met when Coleen was 12, as the couple went to the same school in the Liverpool suburb of Croxteth.

They began dating when they both turned 16 and married in Portofino, Italy, in June 2008 and now live in Cheshire with their four sons Kai, Klay, Kit and Cass.

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

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