Rebekah Vardy vs Coleen Rooney: WAGatha Christie libel trial begins
WAGatha Christie has been taken to court, as Rebekah Vardy sues Coleen Rooney for libel.
The first preliminary hearing in the high profile defamation trial began this morning, over a year after Rooney accused Vardy of leaking fake stories about her to the press.
Neither Rooney, 34, nor Vardy, 38, attended the hearing, with Vardy being pictured arriving at the National Ice Arena in Nottingham to train for her upcoming appearance on Dancing On Ice.
At the hearing, Mr Justice Warby was asked to determine the ‘natural and ordinary’ meaning of Rooney’s posts on Instagram and Twitter which accused Vardy of leaking the stories.
Hugh Tomlinson QC, for Mrs Vardy, said: ‘The fact that both women are married to professional footballers has led to this action being trivialised in some media coverage as “Wag wars” but the impact on Mrs Vardy was not trivial.
‘She has been subjected to an undue and unjustified attack that has had, and continues to have, an impact on her.’
Mr Tomlinson went through the lines of Mrs Rooney’s post, arguing how it would have been perceived.
He said: ‘This post was published and reshared to millions of people and gained wide public currency.’
Quoting from Mrs Rooney’s post where she said she ‘now knows for certain’ who was leaking stories, Mr Tomlinson said the post leaves no doubt for the reasonable reader.
‘That is not the language of suspicion, that is the language of finding out the truth,’he said.
Mr Tomlinson said while Mrs Rooney began with a suspicion, the post ended with a clear accusation after outlining her ‘detective process’.
He continued: ‘That is the process that has been characterised in the press as “Wagatha Christie”.
‘She is describing her detective process, it’s part of her process to find the true villain of the piece.’
Mr Tomlinson characterised the end of Mrs Rooney’s post which named Rebekah Vardy’s account as ‘a series of dots waiting for a revelation’, saying: ‘The person is Rebekah Vardy, the finger is being pointed at her, as the villain, the person, the someone, the one person.’
Mr Tomlinson said that the perception of the ordinary social media user reading the post would be clear: ‘They are going to think she has revealed the culprit… it was Rebekah Vardy that was leaking to The Sun, she was the one person who had access to the three stories, and she was the one person who had betrayed Mrs Rooney’s trust for many years.’
Vardy’s lawyers argue that the meaning of Mrs Rooney’s posts was that she had ‘consistently and repeatedly betrayed the defendant’s trust over several years by leaking the defendant’s private and personal Instagram posts and stories for publication in The Sun’.
In her written claim filed with the court, the Dancing On Ice star said she had worried she would lose her baby because of the stress as she was pregnant at the time.
She ‘suffered extreme distress, hurt, anxiety and embarrassment as a result of the publication of the post and the events which followed’, her lawyers allege.
Vardy also claims she ‘continues to suffer severe and extreme hostility and abuse as a result of the post”, including “a number of highly distressing publications on Twitter’ in June falsely alleging she was a new suspect identified in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.
Rooney claims Vardy ‘was in fact responsible for consistently passing on information about the defendant’s private Instagram posts and stories to The Sun’.
She also alleges ‘this was part of the claimant’s (Mrs Vardy’s) established history and habitual practice of providing private information to journalists and the press’.
On October 9 2019, Rooney shared a statement to social media which read: ‘For a few years now someone 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 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.’
Vardy immediately denied the allegations, writing: ‘As I have just said to you on the phone, I wish you had called me if you thought this. I never speak to anyone about you as various journalists who have asked me over the years can vouch for.
‘If you thought this was happening you could have told me & I could have changed my passwords to see if it stopped. Over the years various people have had access to my Insta and just this week I found 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 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.’
On June 12, Vardy – who is married to Leicester star Jamie – filed a defamation claim against Rooney, with Rooney’s legal team calling the decision ‘disappointing’.
The battle between the two WAGs has become a showbiz sensation over the past year, with Coleen dubbed ‘WAGatha Christie’ and the scandal producing countless memes.
The accusations even made it into the Wall Street Journal in the US and was cited as a war bigger than Brexit.
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