Rebekah Vardy, wife of Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy (L), leaves the Royal Courts of Justice following the final day of the high-profile trial dubbed by the media as “Wagatha Christie” case where Rebekah Vardy is suing Coleen Rooney (R) for libel after being accused of the leaking private stories to press on May 19, 2022 in London, England.
Wiktor Szymanowicz | Future Publishing | Getty Images
LONDON — The so-called “Wagatha Christie” trial that has gripped the British public reached a verdict on Friday, with Rebekah Vardy losing her libel case against fellow soccer star wife Coleen Rooney.
The UK High Court ruled against Vardy and in favor Rooney after a years’ long dispute between the two “wags” — soccer players’ wives and girlfriends — which featured all the twists and turns of one of Agatha Christie’s finest mystery novels.
Judge Justice Steyn delivered her written verdict Friday following a vitriolic and salacious two-week trial in May.
It comes two years after Vardy sued Rooney for defamation after a dispute over a string of Instagram posts.
Rooney alleged that stories from her private Instagram account were leaked by Vardy to journalists at British tabloid newspaper The Sun.
Vardy vehemently denied the claims, arguing that the accusations had caused her “public abuse on a massive scale,” and suing Rooney in an attempt to clear her name.
However, in her ruling Friday, Steyn said it was “likely” that Vardy’s then-agent Caroline Watt “undertook the direct act” of passing information to The Sun.
“The evidence … clearly shows, in my view, that Mrs Vardy knew of and condoned this behavior, actively engaging in it by directing Ms Watt to the private Instagram account, sending her screenshots of Mrs Rooney’s posts, drawing attention to items of potential interest to the press, and answering additional queries raised by the press via Ms Watt,” she said.
How did we get here?
Rooney and Vardy entered the spotlight in the 2000s and 2010s as the so-called Wags — a now lesser-used term owing to its sexist connotations — of former England soccer captain Wayne Rooney and Leicester City player Jamie Vardy, respectively.
But the pair, once friends, rose to personal infamy after a public fallout.
Rooney, suspecting someone of leaking stories from her private Instagram account to the press, embarked on a “sting” operation in 2019.
She posted a slew of fake stories — including about traveling to Mexico for a “gender selection” procedure and the basement of her home flooding — gradually restricting her followers to see if the stories would still emerge in the press.
Eventually, when just one follower remained and the stories continued to leak, Rooney took to social media to post the conclusions of her findings: “It’s………. Rebekah Vardy’s account.”
Vardy, who denied the accusations, then brought the libel case against Rooney, saying her reputation had been damaged. Rooney maintained that her actions were justified in the interests of truth and public interest.