Coleen Rooney ‘revelled’ in being dubbed Wagatha Christie after her ‘sting operation’ and wrongly assumed Rebekah Vardy was a gossip-monger like Bridgerton’s Lady Whistledown, a bombshell £3million libel court showdown heard today.
The pair have been at war since October 2019 after Coleen accused her fellow footballer’s wife of leaking ‘false stories’ about her private life, before claiming she had uncovered the culprit after carrying out a social media ‘sting operation’.
Coleen publicly claimed Rebekah shared three fake stories she had posted on her personal Instagram with The Sun, a claim Rebekah vehemently denied – leading her to launch the costly libel action which finally reached trial today.
In Netflix drama Bridgerton, Lady Whistledown is the pseudonym for an anonymous writer of a pamphlet about high society scandals who, at the end of series one, is unmasked as the aristocrats’ daughter Penelope Featherington.
Today, Rebekah’s barrister Hugh Tomlinson said Coleen was convinced Rebekah was the source of the short lived Secret Wag columnist on The Sun, which gave behind the scenes gossip about the Premier League’s biggest stars.
Mr Tomlinson said: ‘In the unlikely event that there is a real secret Wag, it isn’t Mrs Vardy.’
In today’s bombshell trial, both WAGs sat 10ft apart on the front row of the courtroom, with Coleen, 36, accompanied by former England star Wayne, while Rebekah, 40, was without her Leicester City striker husband, Jamie, 35.
Introducing the case, Rebekah’s barrister, Hugh Tomlinson QC, said his client ‘had no choice’ but to bring the libel claim against Coleen Rooney to ‘establish her innocence and vindicate her reputation’.
He said Rebekah and her family had been ‘subjected to abuse and threats’ over the accusations, including being ‘jeered and heckled at football matches’ and ‘made the butt of endless jokes’.
Addressing the court, Coleen’s barrister, David Sherborne told the court the case was ‘essentially about betrayal’.
He outlined two scenarios: first, that Rebekah betrayed Coleen by leaking stories about her; or that Rebekah’s agent, Caroline Watt, betrayed Rebekah by leaking stories about Coleen without her knowledge.
This morning, Coleen walked into court wearing a £1,565 Mugler blazer and a plastic boot after fracturing her foot during a fall at her home in March.
She was followed 30 seconds’ later by Rebekah, who wore a £890 midi shirt dress from a from British-Canadian designer Edeline Lee, who marks Kate Middleton among her fans.
Both women are expected to give evidence in court, as will Wayne himself, with Mr Sherbourne saying he would testify that, ‘unlike Mrs Vardy’, Coleen does ‘not have proactive PR and want lots of self-promotion’. The court earlier heard Rebekah’s agent, Ms Watt, was ‘not fit to give evidence’ due to health reasons.
Coleen is believed to have agreed for a Netflix documentary to be filmed around her side of the case – reflecting the intense public interest in the proceedings.
Among the key developments at today’s sensational Wagatha Christie showdown –
- Rebekah’s barrister says she ‘had no choice’ but to bring the libel claim against Coleen to ‘establish her innocence and vindicate her reputation’;
- He tells court she has been ‘jeered and heckled at football matches’ and ‘made the butt of endless jokes’ since the allegations emerged;
- Called ‘an evil rat face b****’ on social media, with posts going on to say she ‘should die’ and ‘her baby should be put in an incinerator’;
- Coleen’s famous Instagram sting was not a ‘careful investigation’ that produced ‘irrefutable’ evidence as she suggested, Rebekah’s barrister adds;
- Rebekah ‘has no knowledge’ of incident that saw agent Caroline Watt’s phone fall into the North Sea and ‘doesn’t know’ if she was a leaker;
- ‘Claim Rebekah was involved in ‘conspiracy’ and ‘campaign of deletion’ of evidence is ‘completely baseless”;
- Coleen’s barrister, David Sherborne, tells court the case hinges on ‘betrayal’ – whether it was by Rebekah who betrayed Coleen by leaking information to The Sun or Coleen’s agent, Caroline Watt, who was responsible;
- Suggests that if Ms Watt was responsible for leaking the stories ‘she was doing Rebekah’s dirty work like a hitman’;
- Rebekah’s claim she sat behind Coleen at the 2016 Euros because they were the ‘nearest seats available’ was ‘untrue’, according to new witness statement;
- ‘Harry Maguire’s fiancée Fern Hawkins was ‘upset and embarrassed’ by Rebekah’s WAGs paparazzi photo at 2018 World Cup’;
Coleen Rooney, wife of Derby County manager Wayne Rooney, arrives with her husband at the Royal Courts of Justice in London this morning
Rebekah Vardy pulled up in a black cab today accompanied by two security guards. Her husband, Jamie, was not among the entourage
Coleen was seen wearing a plastic boot on her left leg today after she suffered a fracture following a fall at her home in March
Today saw the toxic feud between Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy spill out into the High Court after months of painstaking pre-trial hearings.
Below is a summary of the evidence as it was heard in court:
Rebekah ‘had to vindicate her reputation’ following Coleen’s ‘flawed’ investigation
Today, Hugh Tomlinson QC, representing Rebekah, began setting out her case to the court.
At the heart of the dispute are three ‘fake’ stories which Coleen maintains that she posted on her personal Instagram stories as she attempted to discover who was leaking information about her and her family.
Wagatha Christie timeline: How Coleen and Rebekah’s long-running, vicious war unfolded before the eyes of the world
September 2017 to October 2019 – The Sun runs a number of articles about Coleen, including that she travelled to Mexico to look into baby ‘gender selection’ treatment, her plan to revive her TV career and the flooding of her basement.
October 9, 2019 – Coleen uses social media to accuse Rebekah of selling stories from her private Instagram account to the tabloids.
Coleen says she spent five months attempting to work out who was sharing information about her and her family based on posts she had made on her personal social media page.
After sharing a series of ‘false’ stories and using a process of elimination, Coleen claims they were viewed by one Instagram account, belonging to Rebekah.
Rebekah, then pregnant with her fifth child, denies the allegations and says various people had access to her Instagram over the years.
She claims to be ‘so upset’ by Coleen’s accusation, later adding: ‘I thought she was my friend but she completely annihilated me.’
The public dispute makes headlines around the world, with the hashtag #WagathaChristie trending.
How it all began: On October 9, 2019, Coleen Rooney, now 36, accused Rebekah Vardy, 40, of leaking ‘false stories’ about her to the press in an Instagram post (above)
Shortly after Coleen’s public accusation, Rebekah – who was pregnant and on holiday in Dubai at the time – denied any involvement (above)
February 13, 2020 – In a tearful appearance on ITV’s Loose Women, Rebekah says the stress of the dispute caused her to have severe anxiety attacks and she ‘ended up in hospital three times’.
Coleen says in a statement that she does not want to ‘engage in further public debate’.
June 23, 2020 – It emerges that Rebekah has launched libel proceedings against Coleen.
Rebekah’s lawyers allege she ‘suffered extreme distress, hurt, anxiety and embarrassment as a result of the publication of the post and the events which followed’.
November 19-20, 2020 – The libel battle has its first High Court hearing in London.
A judge rules that Coleen’s October 2019 post ‘clearly identified’ Rebekah as being ‘guilty of the serious and consistent breach of trust’.
Mr Justice Warby concludes that the ‘natural and ordinary’ meaning of the posts was that Rebekah had ‘regularly and frequently abused her status as a trusted follower of Coleen’s personal Instagram account by secretly informing The Sun of Coleen’s private posts and stories’.
February 8-9, 2022 – A series of explosive messages between Rebekah and her agent Caroline Watt – which Coleen’s lawyers allege were about her – are revealed at a preliminary court hearing.
The court is told Rebekah was not referring to Coleen when she called someone a ‘nasty bitch’ in one exchange with Ms Watt.
Coleen’s lawyers seek further information from the WhatsApp messages, but the court is told that Ms Watt’s phone fell into the North Sea after a boat she was on hit a wave, before further information could be extracted from it.
February 14 – Coleen is refused permission to bring a High Court claim against Ms Watt for misuse of private information to be heard alongside the libel battle.
A High Court judge, Mrs Justice Steyn, says the bid was brought too late and previous opportunities to make the claim had not been taken.
April 13 – Ms Watt is not fit to give oral evidence at the upcoming libel trial, the High Court is told as the case returns for another hearing.
The agent revokes permission for her witness statement to be used, and withdraws her waiver which would have allowed Sun journalists to say whether she was a source of the allegedly leaked stories.
April 29 – Rebekah ‘appears to accept’ that her agent was the source of allegedly leaked stories, Coleen’s barrister David Sherborne tells the High Court.
He argues that a new witness statement submitted by Rebekah suggests Ms Watt was the source but Rebekah claims she ‘did not authorise or condone her’.
Rebekah’s lawyer Hugh Tomlinson says the statement did not contain ‘any change whatever in the pleaded case’, with her legal team having no communication with Ms Watt.
These were about Coleen claiming that she was travelling to Mexico to find out about gender selection, making a return to TV and flooding taking place at her new home. All three stories later appeared in The Sun.
Mr Tomlinson said that, on October 9, 2019, Coleen published a post to more than two million followers on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook which ‘accused Mrs Vardy of being the person who, over a period of years, had consistently and regularly leaked information about her, her friends and her family, to The Sun newspaper’.
He told the court ‘it was expressed in a dramatic style’, referring to the way Mrs Rooney posted ‘It’s ………. Rebekah Vardy’s account’.
Addressing the Instagram post, Rebekah’s barrister, Mr Tomlinson, told the High Court today: ‘The allegation in the post was and remains false: Mrs Vardy had not leaked information about Mrs Rooney or her friends and family to the Sun newspaper from her private Instagram account.
‘Mrs Rooney did not have the ‘irrefutable’ evidence that she claimed to have had: her so-called ‘careful investigation’ was nothing of the sort.
‘If anyone had been leaking information from Mrs Rooney’s private Instagram this was not done with Mrs Vardy’s knowledge or approval.’
He continued: ‘Mrs Vardy made strenuous but unsuccessful attempts to settle the case but the post was not taken down.
‘As result, Mrs Vardy had no choice but to bring this libel action to establish her innocence and vindicate her reputation.’
Mr Tomlinson said Coleen said in the post that she had saved and screenshotted the original newspaper stories which showed that, as she claimed, Rebekah’s account had saved and shared her Instagram posts.
He told the court: ‘We say that this careful investigation was flawed from the start because it is obvious … anybody who knows anything about the operation of social media knows the fact somebody has an account does not necessarily mean that they are the only person who accessed it.’
He said the meaning of the post was that Mrs Rooney had made the accusation against Mrs Vardy.
Mr Tomlinson also said that Coleen had ‘revelled in’ being dubbed ‘Wagatha Christie’, and had shared posts which mocked her up as the renowned crime writer Agatha Christie.
Coleen ”revelled in’ being dubbed ‘Wagatha Christie” and wrongly assumed Rebekah was like Bridgerton’s Lady Whistledown’
Mr Tomlinson said Coleen had ‘revelled in’ being dubbed ‘Wagatha Christie’, and had shared posts which mocked her up as the renowned crime writer Agatha Christie.
He also told the court: ‘We say that this careful investigation was flawed from the start because it is obvious .. anybody who knows anything about the operation of social media knows the fact somebody has an account does not necessarily mean that they are the only person who accessed it.’
He said the meaning of the post was that Coleen had made the accusation against Rebekah.
Mr Tomlinson added that Coleen had wrongly assumed that Rebekah was like Bridgerton’s Lady Whistledown.
The character is a mysterious writer of gossip is the pseudonym of Penelope Featherington in the popular Netflix drama.
Rebekah’s barrister Mr Tomlinson said Coleen was convinced Rebekah was the source of the short lived Secret Wag columnist on The Sun who gave behind the scenes gossip about the Premier League’s biggest stars.
Mr Tomlinson said: ‘In the unlikely event that there is a real secret Wag, it isn’t Mrs Vardy.’
Coleen’s Instagram post led to Rebekah being ‘abused, heckled at football matches and called an ”evil rat-faced b****”’
Mr Tomlinson said that, as a result of the post, Rebekah – who was seven months pregnant at the time – and her family were subjected to horrible abuse, including one post calling her an ‘evil rat-faced b****’ and others saying she should die and her baby should be ‘put in an incinerator’.
He one troll even accused her of abducting Madeleine McCann, Mr Tomlinson said, while her husband Jamie Vardy was also subjected to chants about her during football matches.
Mr Tomlinson said: ‘The allegation was false, Mrs Vardy had not leaked information about Mrs Rooney, her friends and family to The Sun newspaper.’
He added that, if information was leaked ‘this was not something that was done with Mrs Vardy’s knowledge or authority’.
Mr Tomlinson said the affair and subsequent libel case had become the subject of intense press coverage and a source of ‘entertainment’ in the media, being referred to as ‘Wag Wars’ and ‘Wagatha Christie’.
He added: ‘This is far from being an entertaining case, it has been profoundly distressing and disturbing.’
He said Coleen’s post on Instagram was liked about 93,000 times while the Twitter post received more than 300,000 likes.
Mr Tomlinson added: ‘(Rebekah) needs to be able to clear her name through this case, so she can move on from this terrible episode.’
The court heard Rebekah had suffered ‘enormous distress and upset’ over the allegations.
Mr Tomlinson continued: ‘The fact that the parties are each married to well-known footballers has led to this action being trivialised in some media coverage as ‘WAG wars’.
‘The information alleged to have been leaked was, as Mrs Rooney admitted at the hearing on April 29, 2022, low value gossip.
‘Nevertheless, the impact of the post on Mrs Vardy was far from trivial. It has – as was inevitable given Mrs Rooney’s public profile and the sensational nature of the allegation made – been republished in the national media, and on social media on many thousands of occasions, to many millions of readers.
‘Although the media, as they are entitled to do, have turned this case into an entertainment it is not, from Mrs Vardy’s point of view, entertaining.
‘It has been, and continues to be, deeply upsetting in circumstances where she was not the person who leaked information about Mrs Rooney. Mrs Vardy needs to clear her name in order to ever be given a chance to move on from this horrendous episode.’
He added that it was ‘obvious that Mrs Vardy has suffered, and continues to suffer, enormous distress and upset as a result of its publication’.
‘As a result of the post, Mrs Vardy and her family were subjected to abuse and threats. She was jeered and heckled at football matches and was the butt of endless jokes and further accusations,’ he said.
Emerging from a black London cab, Rebekah arriving outside the steps of the High Court this morning for the start of the Wagatha Christie trial
Rebekah walks through a crowd of photographers towards the entrance of the Royal Courts of Justice on the Strand
Coleen’s barrister: ‘Case is essentially about betrayal’
Putting forward Coleen’s argument, David Sherborne QC suggested the libel case was ‘essentially about betrayal’
‘The central question that the court needs to decide now seems to be whether: it is Coleen Rooney that was betrayed by Rebekah Vardy because she knew Caroline Watt, her PR and close confidante, was leaking Mrs Rooney’s private information to The Sun and condoned this, as well as directly leaking information herself, or whether, instead, it is Mrs Vardy that was betrayed by Caroline Watt because she had leaked this information without Mrs Vardy knowing it and had lied to her by denying all along that she had leaked anything.’
WAGs’ fashion battle begins as Coleen wears £1,565 Mugler blazer while Rebekah dons £890 dress by Kate Middleton-approved designer
By Bridie Pearson-Jones for MailOnline
They’re usually spotted in glamourous attire on foreign holidays and in swanky nightclubs.
But Coleen and Rebekah swapped cocktail dresses and bikinis for a smart business style today as they arrived at London High Court to battle out the ‘Wagatha Christie’ case.
Coleen, 36, opted for a stylish black suit with a £1,565 Mugler blazer and navy T-shirt, which she paired with a £615 Gucci loafer.
Rebekah, 40 paired opted for full Duchess style in a trendy midi shirt dress from British-Canadian designer Edeline Lee, who marks Kate Middleton among her fans.
Turning up for the first day of proceedings, Coleen wore her brown hair down while tying part of it back and opting for a natural make-up look with a light layer of foundation and lick of mascara.
She added small golden hoops to the look which otherwise had minimal jewellery.
The mother-of-four, who was wearing a medical boot on her left leg for an injury paired the look with one velvet Gucci loafer from the Italian fashion houses SS22 collection which costs £615.
Coleen clutched two leather handbags as she walked into court and rolled up her blazer sleeves exposing a diamond bracelet.
Mr Sherborne added Mrs Rooney is defending the claim on truth and public interest grounds.
Rebekah ‘knew Coleen was ”posting fake stories” to see if they would be leaked’
Mr Tomlinson claimed Rebekah knew Coleen was ‘posting fake stories’ to see if they would be leaked to the media.
‘She did not directly leak any information from Mrs Rooney’s private Instagram account to The Sun, nor did she do so indirectly by ‘approving or condoning’ anyone else to do so on her behalf,’ he said.
He said that the ‘candid’ WhatsApp messages previously heard in court between Mrs Vardy and her agent Caroline Watt show that while ‘from time to time they did discuss ‘leaking’ information to the press’ only one post is mentioned, in circumstances where journalists already knew the information.
Mr Tomlinson continued: ‘Furthermore, it is plain from the WhatsApp exchanges that Mrs Vardy was aware that Mrs Rooney was posting fake stories in order to see whether anyone would leak them, as well as the fact that she had previously been a suspect.
‘She, like Mrs Rooney, believed that someone was leaking information from Mrs Rooney’s private Instagram but didn’t know who it was and thought it must be her PR as she couldn’t see why anyone would be ‘arsed with selling stories on her’.’
Mr Tomlinson continued addressing Mrs Justice Steyn by saying there is ‘no information’ in any of the evidence that demonstrates Rebekah even viewed Coleen’s Instagram posts during the ‘sting operation’.
He told the court: ‘Mrs Vardy does not actually know what happened, she doesn’t know how this information got into the press, all she knows is what she did and she knows it wasn’t her.’
The barrister said Coleen’s case is ‘entirely inferential’ and that another line of her argument is to say Rebekah has been ‘destroying evidence, she has deleted it and she has conspired to conceal all evidence of her wrongdoing’.
He added: ‘This is untrue, there is no such campaign of deletion. The reason there is no such evidence against Mrs Vardy is because she didn’t do it.’
Meanwhile, Mr Tomlinson told the court that Whatsapp exchanges between Rebekah and her agent do not demonstrate that she was responsible for leaking stories as alleged by Mrs Rooney.
Commenting on a message in which Rebekah said she would ‘love to leak those stories’, he said: ‘They are not stories about Mrs Rooney.’
‘It’s accepted that on some occasions the leaking of stories was discussed between Mrs Vardy and Ms Watt,’ Mr Tomlinson said.
He added that ‘none of those discussions’, with one exception, related to any of the stories at the centre of the libel action.
Rebekah – the wife of Leicester City strike Jamie Vardy – is photographed as she arrived in court today
Happier times: Rebekah and Coleen celebrating England’s win against Wales at Stade Bollaert-Delelis in France in 2016. The moment was discussed in court today
From gender selection to a flooded basement: The ‘false’ stories Coleen claims to have planted on her Instagram during ‘sting’ operation
Three ‘false’ stories Coleen Rooney claims to have planted on her private Instagram account as part of a months-long ‘sting operation’ are at the heart of her libel battle with Rebekah Vardy.
Coleen accused her fellow footballer’s wife of leaking the information to the Sun newspaper in a now infamous social media post – something Rebekah denies.
Here, we look at what has been claimed about the stories:
The gender selection article
Coleen claims to have posted the first of her ‘sting operation’ posts about a so-called gender-selection treatment on April 8 2019.
The post featured a photograph of the back seat of an airplane overlaid with the text ‘Let’s go and see what this gender selection is all about’, Coleen claims.
She alleges that the invented post was marked on Instagram as ‘seen’ only by Rebekah’s account, her lawyers have told the High Court.
In August that year, the Sun published an article claiming Coleen travelled to Mexico to look into the treatment.
The story, carrying journalist Andy Halls’s byline, is 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’.
The article, referring to ‘a source’ and ‘pals’, alleged Coleen is ‘so desperate for her fifth baby to be a girl’ that she wants to hear more about a process ‘in which doctors examine embryos in a lab before implanting only those of the desired gender back into the womb’.
TV decisions article
A private ‘false’ post about planning a return to TV is made on September 25 2019, Coleen claims.
She says it featured a ‘selfie’ and the text ‘Up and out!! Easing my way back into work!! TV decisions today…. maybe it’s time for Australia’.
Coleen’s lawyers claimed in her High Court defence that the post was only accessible by Rebekah’s account.
Three days later, a Sun article under Michael Hamilton’s byline was published under the headline ‘ROO-MBA Coleen Rooney in talks to join Strictly next year as she looks to revive TV career when Wayne returns to UK’.
It quoted an anonymous source and claimed to exclusively reveal Coleen was ‘locked in talks with producers’, planned to ‘front a fashion programme’ and ‘could well do’ the Strictly Come Dancing TV show.
The flooded basement article
Coleen says she shared false information about her basement being flooded on October 2 2019, the third ‘sting operation’ post.
Her lawyers have again alleged to the High Court that the post was only accessible to Rebekah’s account.
On October 8, The Sun published a story, with Simon Boyle’s byline, headlined: ‘IN ROO-INS Wayne and Coleen Rooney’s £20million ‘Morrisons mansion’ flooded during Storm Lorenzo’.
The article, quoting a ‘source close to the couple’, claimed to reveal that bad weather had ‘wreaked havoc’ at a Cheshire property, with Coleen being ‘called in to find the cellar had been flooded’.
Rebekah’s claim she sat behind Coleen at the 2016 Euros because they were the ‘nearest seats available’ was ‘untrue’
In an 11th-hour application, Coleen’s barrister David Sherborne asked Mrs Justice Steyn for permission to introduce a witness statement from Harpreet Robertson, who was a family liaison officer for the Football Association during the Euro 2016 and World Cup 2018 international football tournaments.
Mr Sherborne said the statement was ‘responsive’ to evidence in Rebekah’s statement that at the Euros in 2016, where she first got to know Coleen, her friends sat behind Coleen because they were the ‘nearest seats available’.
The barrister said in court documents: ‘In fact, Ms Robertson explains that this is untrue.’
Mr Sherborne told the court Rebekah had introduced this evidence into her witness statement to ‘suggest that from the outset she was friendly and respectful to Coleen’.
He added: ‘That goes to her motive for leaking information – she, of course, denies that. We say this is a constant theme of her witness statement that she was friendly and kind to Coleen, and was therefore unlikely to leak anything.’
In response, the judge said: ‘Although I accept that there was no order allowing for responsive evidence, nevertheless, it is an important consideration in assessing why the default occurred, that the reason was in circumstances where the defendant had provided all other statements on time.
‘This statement had not been provided because it was not, at that stage, intended to give it and only thought necessary to give it on receipt of the claimant’s statement.’
Allowing the statement to be used in the case, Mrs Justice Steyn concluded: ‘It does not seem to me that it causes any prejudice to admit this statement.’
Rebekah ‘couldn’t have authored The Sun’s Secret Wag column because it was supportive of Coleen’
Mr Tomlinson quoted to the court from a Sun Secret Wag column from October 2019, which was supportive of Coleen, to dismiss the idea that Rebekah could have been the author of the column.
There were chuckles in court and a smile from Rebekah when the lawyer behind her read the first line: ‘OMG!’ and turned to the judge to explain ‘which stands for Oh My God, my lady’.
He continued reading from the article: ‘HOW could she!!?? Coleen Rooney has created the biggest WAG fallout since Nicola McLean whipped off her 32FF superbra.
‘Becky’s had a load of flack but most of us think Coleen played a blinder… as long as it actually WAS Becky, otherwise it’s a huge own goal. And if Becky’s had people she doesn’t know about accessing her account she needs to stop them ASAP.’
He added: ‘This is supposedly in a column written by Rebekah Vardy, according to Mrs Rooney.’
Harry Maguire’s fiancée Fern Hawkins ‘was ”upset and embarrassed” at Rebekah’s staged 2018 Russia World Cup photo’
Fern Hawkins, fiancee of centre-back Harry Maguire, was ‘upset and embarrassed’ when Rebekah Vardy helped stage a paparazzi photo of the England WAGs at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, the court heard.
Bombshell texts between Rebekah and her former agent Caroline Watt revealed at earlier hearings showed Rebekah’s key role in setting up the photo behind her fellow WAGs’ backs.
She had previously denied any part in the posed-up photo in St Petersburg.
Today, quoting from the 11th-hour witness statement of Harpreet Robinson, an FA liaison officer, Mr Sherborne told the court that Ms Robinson had said: ‘Fern did express her upset to me, that she had taken part and she was embarrassed, was prepared and had not expected to be put in that position by Mrs Vardy.’
Messages between Rebekah and her agent Caroline Watt on the day in question were handed over to Coleen’s legal team as part of their High Court battle.
Wayne Rooney will tell trial ‘Coleen doesn’t have proactive PR, unlike Rebekah who is keen on self-promotion’
David Sherborne told the court that the trial would hear evidence from Coleen Rooney as well as husband Wayne.
Rooney’s cousin and Mrs Rooney’s brother will also provide evidence, he added.
Mr Sherborne explained that the witnesses would say that ‘Mrs Rooney doesn’t have a proactive PR… unlike Mrs Vardy’.
‘And unlike Mrs Vardy again, she is not so keen to get lots of self-promotion or favourable coverage,’ he added. ‘That was the motive, why Mrs Vardy leaked information to The Sun.’
Mr Sherborne said witnesses will also explain that Mrs Rooney ‘didn’t tell any of them she was making this sting operation’.
He said it was a ‘surprise’ to them when her post accusing Mrs Vardy was made, he added.
The flurry of messages were exchanged between the two women during a day-out in St Petersburg on June 26, in 2018.
Rebkah was out in the Russian city with Millie Savage, Gemma Acton, Megan Davison, Annabel Peyton, Fern Hawkins, Shannon Horlock, Annie Kilner and Lucia Loi
They were the partners at the time of John Stones, Gary Cahill, Jordan Pickford, Jack Butland, Harry Maguire, Nick Pope, Kyle Walker and Marcus Rashford.
The restaurant trip was two days prior to England’s first-round game against Belgium.
At 14:37pm, Rebekah messaged her agent: ‘We may have to walk to restaurant from hotel now… so might be a good pic of us walking down it’s about 10/15 mins away’
Ms Watt replied: ‘Ok will let them know thanks’
At 16.12pm, Rebekah messaged: ‘On the way down in the restaurant car… He’s doing two runs’.
Five minutes later, Ms Watt replied: ‘Ok. Hopefully he catches you all! Don’t forget to take a group shot.’
Rebekah then said: ‘If he’s here he is hiding in bushes or behind trees lol’
Half an hour later, however, Rebekah messaged that she is worried the other women will think she has tipped off the photographer after they spot him outside the restaurant.
‘F*** I made everyone go outside for a pic and the pap was there… Looks like I tipped him off now,’ Vardy says.
She said her fellow WAGS wanted her to put her own picture of them on her own Instagram.
‘Girls have asked me to put it on insta so quick get them out… they want me to put it up before the pap puts his in! I’ve bought about 10 mins,’ she wrote.
Posting a picture of the group on one of the WAGS Instagram would render the paparazzi shot practically worthless, as it would be freely available to media outlets.
Messages uncovered by Ms Rooney’s lawyers seemingly pin the blame on Ms Vardy for this controversial picture of fellow England team WAGs (pictured) outside a restaurant in St Petersburg, Russia during the 2018 World Cup
Coleen bore a purposeful expression as she walked in to court this morning alongside her former England star husband
Coleen glances to one side as she walks into the entrance of the High Court carrying two handbags and wearing a plastic boot
Rebekah ‘has no knowledge’ of incident that saw agent Caroline Watt’s phone fall into the North Sea and ‘doesn’t know’ if she was a leaker
The court previously heard that Rebekah’s agent and friend Caroline Watt’s phone fell into the sea after a boat she was on hit a wave before further information could be extracted from it in August 2021.
Today, Mr Tomlinson said Rebekah ‘has no personal knowledge’ of the incident and ‘all she knows is what has been said by Ms Watt’.
‘It has not been suggested that Mrs Vardy had any involvement with this and it cannot possibly be relied on as evidence of wrongdoing by Mrs Vardy,’ he said.
The court heard from Mr Tomlinson that Ms Watt had recently withdrawn a witness statement from the trial in which she said she had not leaked stories.
Ms Watt also withdrew a waiver that might have allowed Sun journalists to say whether or not she was the source.
Mr Tomlinson said until these developments ‘Mrs Vardy believed that Ms Watt wasn’t the source of the leaks’.
‘She trusted her friend, that was Ms Watt’s own evidence,’ he said.
‘The result of all these developments is that Mrs Vardy doesn’t know what to think. She accepts that it’s possible that it may be that Ms Watt was the source of some or all of the stories.’
Mr Tomlinson added: ‘As Mrs Vardy’s PR, Ms Watt had access to her Instagram account.’
Mr Tomlinson said that if Ms Watt was the source of leaked stories ‘that’s not something that Mrs Vardy knew anything about and it’s certainly something that she did not approve of or authorise Ms Watt to do’.
He added that the developments around the agent ‘makes no change at all’ in Mrs Vardy’s pleaded case.
‘Her case is and always has been that she did not leak Mrs Rooney’s information from her private Instagram to the Sun, whether directly or using the agency of a third party’.
Mr Tomlinson added of Rebekah: ‘She’s not able to say of her friend, she was the leaker. She doesn’t know.’
Coleen barrister: ‘If Rebekah’s agent leaked stories she was doing WAG’s ‘dirty work”
Mr Sherborne said while there wasn’t a person ‘standing over a body with a smoking gun’ all the evidence in the case pointed towards Rebekah Vardy as being the alleged leaker.
Mr Sherborne said the two suspects in the case were Vardy and her PR and close confidante Caroline Watt – and ‘of course we say they were in it together’.
If Caroline Watt had personally leaked the information he said: ‘It’s like hiring a hitman or woman. ‘ It doesn’t mean in legal terms she had to pull the trigger herself. Just because you are not the person who gets your hands dirty, it doesn’t mean you are the one responsible or equally as responsible.
Mr Sherborne added: ‘Mrs Rooney sits here in front of the court not because she wants to but because she has to.
‘She didn’t want to have to write the post any more than she wanted to be here.’
Mr Sherborne said it was ‘the sad truth’ that someone ‘she thought she could trust’ who she had allowed access to her personal Instagram posts had secretly been passing on information to a newspaper.
He said: ‘If you are a person like Mrs Rooney with a public profile you accept that some things are going to be made public but you might think it makes it all the more important if you close your doors to the outside world that this is a private space where you can share things that are not for the whole world to know.’
Mr Sherborne continued: ‘If (Rebekah Vardy) gave Ms Watt the gun and the bullets, told her where to target them, told her what was happening and when, that makes her just as responsible as the person who pulled the trigger. To use an analogy, it is like hiring a hitman or woman.’
He said there were, in text message exchanges between Mrs Vardy and Ms Watt, examples of the pair discussing leaking other people’s private information.
This included one exchange, he told the court, in which Mrs Vardy said ‘I just don’t want it coming back on me’. He said Ms Watt replied ‘I can tell someone’ and Mrs Vardy answered by saying ‘yeah, do it’.
The barrister said it was notable Mrs Vardy did not say ‘no’, nor that she would not do that, nor that she had never done so.
He added: ‘Mrs Vardy is just as responsible for leaking information which someone else doesn’t want shared with the press, even if she doesn’t pull the trigger and send it across herself. Of course, we say the same is true of leaks from Mrs (Coleen) Rooney’s private Instagram account.’
Mr Sherborne said there were ‘only two real suspects’ and that any suggestion someone may have hacked into Mrs Rooney’s account to access her private information was ‘wild speculation, wild theory, because there is no evidence whatsoever to support it’. He added: ‘There is plenty of evidence, inference and circumstance we say, that Mrs Vardy knew and approved of Ms Watt (leaking private information).’
JANUARY 2019: Ms Vardy texts Miss Watt and is said to have described Coleen as a ‘nasty b****… I’ve taken a big dislike to her! She thinks she’s amazing…Would love to leak those stories’
FEBRUARY 2019: Ms Watt and Ms Vardy realise Rooney has unfollowed them on Instagram. In a series of messages, Rebekah, who is married to Leicester City striker Jamie, 35, is said to have described Coleen as a ‘nasty b****’ and a ‘c***’, while Ms Watt brands the wife of former Manchester United star Wayne Rooney as ‘trash’ and ‘up her own ar**’
OCTOBER 2019: The pair discuss their response to Coleen’s now infamous Wagatha Christie claims. The text messages are said to show Rebekah describing Mrs Rooney as a ‘b***’ and a ‘c***’
Rebekah branded Wayne a ‘c***’ and said Coleen should ‘get over herself’ in texts
Court documents show that Rebekah branded Wayne Rooney a ‘c***’ and said Coleen should ‘get over herself’ in a string of foul-mouthed texts.
The messages show Rebekah and her agent, Caroline Watt, discussing Coleen’s bombshell claim that she had leaked stories from her private Instagram.
Rebekah writes: ‘She thinks it’s me that’s been doing stories on her! Of all the people on her Instagram ffs!
‘That c*** needs to get over herself’ and added: ‘What a joke! All I’ve ever been is nice to her though! Even when Wayne was being a c***.’
Hugh Tomlinson, acting for Rebekah, said these were private conversations between two friends and ‘show that in private Mrs Vardy often uses strong language’, adding: ‘What those exchanges show was that Mrs Vardy was sometimes irritated by Mrs Rooney, rightly or wrongly.’
Who’s who in the case? Former friends who had a bitter falling out, the former Virgin Atlantic air hostess, and the celebrity lawyers going head to head
Rebekah Vardy with her agent, Caroline Watt, who had been due to give evidence in the trial but was recently found to be ‘not fit’ to take part, also withdrawing her written evidence
The footballer’s wife bringing the claim, Rebekah’s family was thrust into the limelight after her husband Jamie helped Leicester City on their way to an unlikely Premier League win in 2016.
The model and TV personality, 40, 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.
The mother-of-five recently wrote a children’s book with her husband Jamie, entitled Cedric The Little Sloth With A Big Dream, which follows a little sloth who hopes to become a footballer.
Coleen, the footballer’s wife defending the claim, is perhaps now better known as ‘Wagatha Christie’ after her social media posts at the heart of the libel trial went viral.
The 36-year-old has had a varied career including TV presenting, writing, as well as fronting an exercise DVD.
Coleen met her husband when she was 12, as the couple went to the same school in Liverpool.
They began dating when they both turned 16 and have four sons together – Kai Wayne, Klay Anthony, Kit Joseph and Cass Mac.
Mrs Vardy’s friend and agent, Ms Watt has featured in some of the preliminary hearings, despite not being a party to the claim or giving evidence at the trial.
She is a former Virgin Atlantic air hostess who has been Rebekah’s agent for the past seven years, helping to build her profile in the national media.
Reports that she no longer represents her following the current controversy engulfing the two have been dismissed as inaccurate with Ms Watt remaining close to Ms Vardy both professionally and personally.
Ms Watt, 39, is married to former footballer Steve Watt, who played briefly for Chelsea, making one Premier League appearance for two minutes in 2005 and Swansea City. He is currently manager of Kent non-league side Hythe Town and they have two children.
After leaving the airline industry, Ms Watt began working as an agent in the world of entertainment, quickly developing a reputation for her communication skills and ability to network.
She was formerly employed by talent agency The Frontrow Partnership but left in 2019 to go it alone and took her main client and close friend, Ms Vardy with her.
Ms Watt has been credited with building Ms Vardy’s public profile by ensuring that she regularly featured in the national media and also brokered the deal for her to appear on the hit reality TV show I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! in 2018.
Ms Watt started representing the high-profile WAG in 2015, when her husband, Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy shot to fame.
She is a regular visitor to the Vardy’s Lincolnshire home and also socialises with Ms Vardy, attending glitzy parties and bars.
Her other clients include the former Page 3 girl Nicola McLean but it is Ms Vardy that has been the biggest asset in her career as an agent.
Hugh Tomlinson QC (left), who is representing Ms Vardy, is a top-flight privacy silk who has launched a number of battles with the Press in a wide-spanning career. David Sherborne (right), 53, is acting for Mrs Rooney
Hugh Tomlinson QC
An experienced media barrister, Mr Tomlinson is at the front of Mrs Vardy’s legal team in the libel case.
Called to the bar in 1983, his previous clients include the Prince of Wales in his legal battle against the Mail on Sunday over his diaries, easyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou and oligarch Roman Abramovich.
Mr Tomlinson, who became a QC in 2002, is a board member of campaign group Hacked Off.
Mr Sherborne also has a reputation as the barrister the rich and famous turn to for legal assistance – his previous client list includes Diana, Princess of Wales, Hollywood actor Michael Douglas and former prime minister Tony Blair and his wife Cherie.
Mrs Rooney’s barrister is no stranger to high-profile libel trials at the Royal Courts of Justice, notably representing Johnny Depp in the actor’s 2020 libel claim against the publisher of the Sun, News Group Newspapers (NGN).
The barrister, called to the bar in 1992, has also represented dozens of claimants, including celebrities, suing NGN over phone hacking at the News Of The World.
Mrs Justice Steyn
The High Court judge overseeing the case, Mrs Justice Steyn (pictured right) was appointed in 2019 and sits in the Queen’s Bench Division – the part of the High Court which deals with defamation, personal injury and breach of contract claims.
As well as overseeing the ‘Wagatha Christie’ claim, other prominent cases she has heard include Arron Banks’ libel claim against journalist Carole Cadwalladr and the FDA union’s unsuccessful legal challenge over Boris Johnson’s decision to support Priti Patel following bullying accusations.
The daughter of former Law Lord Lord Steyn, Mrs Justice Steyn covered a variety of cases as a barrister, including a case over the expansion of Heathrow airport.