Rebekah Vardy loses 'Wagatha Christie' trial against Coleen Rooney
One of the more unusual football-related legal battles wrapped up Friday, as Rebekah Vardy lost her libel trial against Coleen Rooney.
The self-inflicted legal defeat for Vardy, wife of Leicester City star Jamie Vardy, was the culmination of a three-year spat that began in 2019 when Rooney, wife of Manchester United and England icon Wayne Rooney, accused her of leaking stories to the media.
Vardy denied the allegations and attempted to salvage her reputation by suing Rooney for libel.
The judge presiding over the bitter dispute ruled that Rooney's post on Instagram accusing Vardy of leaking stories to British outlet The Sun was "substantially true."
"Ms. Vardy knew of and condoned this behaviour, actively engaging in it by directing Ms. Watt (Vardy's former agent) to the private Instagram account, sending her screenshots of Ms. Rooney's posts, drawing attention to items of potential interest to the press, and answering additional queries raised by the press via Ms. Watt," judge Karen Steyn said, according to Bethany Minelle and Gemma Peplow of Sky News.
The judge also concluded that Vardy and her former agent likely destroyed evidence that could have been even more damaging to their case, saying: "In my judgment, it is likely that Ms. Vardy deliberately deleted her WhatsApp chat with Ms. Watt, and that Ms. Watt deliberately dropped her phone in the sea."
The feud between the wives of two of England's most famous footballers sparked a media frenzy. Many nicknamed Rooney "Wagatha Christie" for the manner in which she discovered that Vardy was responsible for notifying journalists at The Sun about stories on her private Instagram account.
In October 2019, Rooney took to social media to reveal how she had executed a sting-like operation, posting a series of fake stories on her private Instagram to find out who was leaking stories about her and her family to the press. Rooney blocked all of her followers except for Vardy before sharing three false stories, which were subsequently passed along to The Sun.
Rooney ended the bombshell Instagram post by saying, "It Was……… Rebekah Vardy's account."
Wagatha Christie is a play on the term WAG - commonly used to refer to the wives and girlfriends of football players in Britain - and the popular detective novelist Agatha Christie.
"It was not a case I ever sought or wanted," said Rooney after the judgement.
She added: "Although I bear Mrs. Vardy no ill will, today's judgment makes clear that I was right in what I said in my posts of October 2019."
The court praised Rooney for providing "honest and reliable" evidence, while Vardy's evidence was treated with "very considerable caution."
"There were many occasions when her evidence was manifestly inconsistent with the contemporaneous documentary evidence … and others where she was evasive," Steyn said.
The judge added: "Ms. Vardy was generally unwilling to make factual concessions, however implausible her evidence.
"This inevitably affects my overall view of her credibility, although I have borne in mind that untruthful evidence may be given to mask guilt or to fortify innocence."