Britain’s ‘Wagatha Christie’ libel lawsuit over: Here’s what happened

Rebekah Vardy, wife of Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy (L), leaves the Royal Courts of Justice after the final day of the highly publicized trial dubbed by the media the ‘Wagatha Christie’ case where Rebekah Vardy is suing Coleen Rooney (R ) for defamation after being publicly accused of leaking private stories to the press on May 19, 2022 in London, England.

Wiktor Szymanowicz | Edition of the future | Getty Images

LONDON — The so-called ‘Wagatha Christie’ trial that gripped the British public delivered its verdict on Friday, with Rebekah Vardy losing her libel case against fellow footballer Coleen Rooney.

The UK High Court has ruled against Vardy and in favor of Rooney after a year-long row between the two ‘wags’ – the football players’ wives and girlfriends – which featured all the twists and turns of one of Agatha Christie’s best crime novels.

Judge Steyn delivered her written verdict on Friday after a vitriolic and salacious two-week trial in May.

It comes two years after Vardy sued Rooney for defamation after a dispute over a series of Instagram posts.

Rooney alleged that stories from his private Instagram account were leaked by Vardy to reporters at British tabloid The Sun.

Vardy vehemently denied the claims, arguing that the charges caused him “large-scale public abuse”, and sued Rooney in an effort to clear his name.

However, in his ruling on Friday, Steyn said it was “likely” Caroline Watt, Vardy’s then-agent, “undertook the direct act” of passing information to The Sun.

“The evidence … clearly shows, in my view, that Ms Vardy was aware of this behavior and condoned it, actively engaging in it by directing Ms Watt to the private Instagram account, sending her screenshots of the publications by Ms. Rooney, drawing attention to items of potential press interest and responding to additional questions raised by the press via Ms. Watt,” she said.

How did we come here?

Rooney and Vardy came into the limelight in the 2000s and 2010s as the so-called wags – a term now less used due to its sexist connotations – of former England football captain Wayne Rooney and Leicester City player Jamie Vardy, respectively.

But the couple, once friends, became personal infamy after a public fallout.

Rooney, suspecting someone leaked stories from his private Instagram account to the press, went on an “undercover” operation in 2019.

She posted a slew of fake stories – including about a trip to Mexico for a ‘gender selection’ procedure and her home’s basement flooding – gradually limiting her followers to see if the stories would still emerge in the press. .

Eventually, with just one follower left and the stories continuing to leak, Rooney took to social media to post the findings of her findings: “This is…the Rebekah Vardy story .”

Vardy, who denied the charges, later sued Rooney for defamation, claiming his reputation had been tarnished.

Rooney maintained that his actions were justified in the interest of truth and the public interest.

What happened in court?

The case went to a seven-day trial in May, in which Rooney, 36, and Vardy, 40, both took the stand to share their stories.

In an emotionally charged hearing, Rooney’s defense offered evidence of Vardy’s apparent disregard for the privacy of others, including his selling of a ‘kiss and tell’ story following an affair one night stand with celebrity Peter Andre.

Vardy finally admitted that she once tried to leak a story about footballer Danny Drinkwater, messaging her agent, Watt, saying, “I want to pay for this.”

She also appeared to agree that Watt leaked information from Rooney’s private Instagram account to a newspaper, but denied it was “new” information.

Watt was found unfit to testify at trial. The Sun reporters also did not testify.

An expensive saga

In her ruling on Friday, Judge Steyn said Vardy had suffered ‘a degree of self-deception’ to the extent of his involvement in the leaks to The Sun, adding that ‘there had been many occasions’ where Vardy’s evidence “was patently inconsistent”.

She also noted that while Vardy may have felt “genuinely offended by the accusation made against her by Ms Rooney in the reveal message”, the charges of defamation – a type of defamation in written form – do not were unfounded.

Rooney said Friday she felt vindicated by the decision.

“Naturally, I am delighted that the judge ruled in my favor with her judgment today,” she said, according to a statement carried by the PA news agency.

However, she noted that the lawsuit was one of overspending at a time when many people across the country are facing a deepening cost of living crisis.

“It was not a case that I ever sought or wanted,” she said. “I never believed he should have gone to court at such a price in difficult times for so many people, when the money could have been much better spent helping others.”

Vardy’s loss means she will not receive any compensation, but Rooney will be entitled to claim costs.

Still, the damages Rooney will receive are likely to be minimal compared to the cost of the case, with legal experts suggesting each woman will now face legal bills in excess of £1million ($1.2million ).

Vardy said she was “extremely sad and disappointed with the judge’s decision”.

“This is not the outcome I expected, nor believed to be fair. I brought this action to uphold my reputation and I am devastated by the judge’s finding,” she said in a statement. communicated.

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