False stories on Instagram, accusations of leaks in the press, defamation suits … The incredible trial between Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy, two influencers first known to be the wives of English footballers, opened on Tuesday in London .
The case is attracting such interest in the UK that it has its own nickname: “Wagatha Christie” – WAG (Wives and girlfriends) being an acronym used to refer to the companions of famous sportsmen.
Dozens of photographers gathered outside the High Court in London and the entrance of the two women was filmed for a documentary. Inside, reporters were crammed into a courtroom to follow the case, with the court also setting up video streaming in the basement for those who did not have a seat.
In this trial, which is due to last until May 18, Rebekah Vardy is suing Coleen Rooney for defamation after the latter accused her of having leaked information to the English tabloids.
It all started in October 2019 when Coleen Rooney, the wife of former English football star Wayne Rooney, accused Rebekah Vardy, married to Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy, of having passed on “false stories” to the tabloid The Sun. concerning her.
In a publication on Instagram and Twitter widely relayed and derided by Internet users, Ms. Rooney explained that she had realized that what she published on her private account was regularly published in the newspaper, which at the time had a section devoted to the wives of footballers.
Suspecting Ms Vardy, she explained that she carried out the investigation by “blocking everyone from my stories except ONE account” and posting false stories about her life – including a trip to Mexico to select the gender of her child – to see if they ended up in the tabloid, which they did.
“I took screenshots that clearly show that only one person had seen” the stories, she said. “It’s… Rebekah Vardy’s account.”
Ms. Vardy had denied and decided to sue Ms. Rooney for defamation. According to British law, it is now up to Mrs Rooney to prove the veracity of the accusations made.
“I gave no information to the newspapers,” assured Ms. Vardy in court on Tuesday.
“The accusations in the post were and remain false,” added his famous lawyer, Hugh Tomlinson, in his written submissions.
Ms Vardy’s public relations agent, who had access to her client’s Instagram account, is suspected of being behind the leaks. But according to Ms Rooney’s lawyer, David Sherborne, “there is ample evidence to show that Ms Vardy knew and approved” of the leaks.
“If (Ms Vardy) gave (her agent) the gun and the bullets, told her where to aim, what was going on and when, that makes her just as responsible as the person pulling the trigger,” claimed Mr Sherborne.
“I didn’t know that was what was going on,” Ms Vardy retorted.
The case had already ended up in court in November 2020. At the time, the judge concluded that Ms Rooney “clearly identified” Ms Vardy as “guilty”, paving the way for the defamation trial.
If Coleen Rooney, 36, and Rebekah Vardy, 40, became public figures because of their relationship with footballers, they have since been “people” in their own right. Followed by hundreds of thousands of subscribers on Instagram, they regularly share photos of their respective children.