Wagatha Christie Explained: Everything to Know About Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney’s Ongoing Defamation Case

It’s the experience that has gripped the UK, sitting at a cross between obsessions with celebrity culture and Premier League football and the old institutions of British society that no one would have imagined existed. Here’s the experience: Wagatha Christie, who took two and a half years to make, is sure to have a premium streaming miniseries in much less time.

Rebecca Vardy, the wife of former England striker Jamie Vardy, is suing Colin Rooney, the wife of former England striker Wayne Rooney, for defamation. For starters really, they’re the “WAGs” or “wives and girlfriends” in the Wagatha Christie portmanteau. The totally modern world of Instagram stories, the cynicism behind each other’s appearances on WhatsApp and the indignation that comes with not following up on social media has hit the royal courts of justice. Nobody can look away.

How did we get here then?

Let’s go back to the Halcyon days of 2019, when coronavirus was really a new concept and Wayne Rooney was on the loose with DC United at MLS. Across the pond, his wife was worried. Someone was leaking stories about her to The Sun. One might consider this to be an occupational hazard for Coleen Rooney, Wayne’s childhood sweetheart, who has spent more of her life in the spotlight than out of it, but it’s understandable that she’s had enough of her own business going through the tabloids.

Over the course of five months, Ronnie carried out what she described as a “sting operation”, banning everyone from viewing her Instagram Stories. From there she published “a series of false stories to see if they made their way into the newspaper”. Here’s what some have, she said: a possible appearance on Strictly Come Dancing, a Flooded Mansion, A Trip to Mexico. That was enough. She thought she knew “for sure” who was responsible. Only three ellipses were enough to convey stress as she revealed.

“It’s an account…… with Vardy.” The internet soon caught fire and Wagatha Christie was born. Vardy has since been adamant that it wasn’t the leak, noting that others gained access to her Instagram account, including a PR agency and an advertising agency, and suggested that if Rooney had been in touch before she could have changed the password.

Neither side backed down. When the Daily Mail asked Vardy if she ever argued with Ronnie, she said, “It would be like arguing with the pigeons. You can tell him you’re right and he’s wrong, but it’s still bad in your hair.”

She added in the same interview, “I guess it’s more than just an apology, right?”

Lawyers step in

In July 2020, Vardy filed a defamation suit against Rooney, claiming that the allegations against her had caused “extreme distress, injury, anxiety, and embarrassment”. At a preliminary hearing in November 2020, Judge Mark Warby concluded that Rooney’s statement that the leak was the “Rebecca Vardy” account constituted a direct accusation of the 40-year-old.

Both sides raised their costs during subsequent hearings, and this week ended in the Supreme Court as both sides refused to agree to a settlement that would save them money. For Vardy, Her lawyers said 18 months ago, This is about ‘vindicat[ing] I heard it.”

The latest from the trial

On Thursday, Vardy underwent her third day of questioning as Ronnie’s attorney David Sherborne tried to prove she was personally responsible for the leaked stories. English libel law requires Rooney to prove specifically that Vardy leaked the stories or to convince the judge, Judge Karen Stein, that revealing them was in the public interest.

With much of the contact history between Vardy and her agent Caroline Watt missing (more on that later), Rooney’s team suggested that she was lying about the extent of her relationship with the press. Vardy admitted that she tried to leak a story about her then-husband’s Leicester teammate Danny Drinkwater being arrested for drunk driving, but insisted it was one story.

Anadolu Agency

She was also questioned by Rooney’s lawyers in a 2004 interview with the News of the World in which she revealed that pop star Peter Andre was “hanged like a little Chibulata”, comments she said she “deeply regrets”. They also indicated that Vardy had ordered her agent Caroline Watt to leak stories about another player who was Leicester, now Manchester City player, Riyad Mahrez, after he missed training.

Messages exchanged between the two showed Watt suggested leaking the story to a Sky Sports reporter, and Vardy replied that she did not want to “return to me”. When Watt said, “I can tell someone,” Vardy said, “Do it.”

Vardy said she was “talking about things that were already in the public domain”. Meanwhile, Watt was deemed unhealthy enough to testify.

Lost phone and Davy Jones locker

Sherborne said it was not clear if Watt had actually leaked the news because her phone is now lying at the bottom of the North Sea. As Rooney’s lawyer said, last summer, Vardy’s agent’s “miserable phone” fell into the sea “within days” of his team’s request to examine it.

Meanwhile, Vardy herself is unable to access her WhatsApp messages after the IT expert responsible for copying them lost the password. The WhatsApp spouse Jamie Vardy has also been hacked.

Sherburne alleged in written memos that Vardy and her team engaged in a “deliberate and calculated” effort to eliminate evidence. Vardy’s lawyers, led by Hugh Tomlinson, called the allegation “unfounded”. “There is no such write-off campaign,” they said. “The reason there is no direct evidence against Mrs. Vardy is that she did not.”

What will come next?

The trial entered the third of the seven days allotted to it on Thursday and Rooney is expected to testify after that. Her husband Wayne can also take the stand before Stein makes her judgement.

For the winner, their hefty bill will at least come with a portion of the side whitewash. Whoever did not succeed will only receive the fees of his attorney for the company.