Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy’s Wagatha Christie case returned to the High Court in London on Wednesday as another hearing for the ongoing libel battle was held, ahead of the full trial which is expected next month.
The High Court heard the hearing will cover issues around witness statements and disclosure of material ahead of the trial.
The two WAGs have been at loggerheads since 2019 – when 36-year-old Coleen accused Rebekah, 40, of leaking ‘false stories’ about her personal life to the media.
Coleen came to the conclusion after carrying out a months-long “sting operation” to find the culprit.
Mum-of-four Coleen was dubbed ‘Wagatha Christie’ when she publicly claimed Rebekah – married to Jamie Vardy – was sharing personal stories she had posted on Instagram.
However Rebekah vehemently denies the accusations and she is suing Coleen for libel. The case has been running since 2020.
Here’s a timeline of what we know so far as the full trial is set to take place in the coming weeks.
June 2020 – Rebekah launches defamation lawsuit
Eight months after the original tweet, it was reported Rebekah had launched a £1million High Court defamation lawsuit against Coleen, following the accusations.
The Mirror shared at the time: “The pair are set to clash in court in what could be the most explosive celebrity case of all time.”
November 2020 – First stage of libel case begins
Six months later, the first stage of the libel case began. Mr Justice Warby set the parameters for the case.
The Guardian reported a “victory for Vardy” after the judge agreed that an “ordinary reader” would see Coleen’s post as an allegation that Rebekah had leaked stories about her and “frequently abused her status as a trusted follower of Ms Rooney’s personal Instagram account”.
Matthew Dando, who is a partner at media law firm Wiggin, described the outcome as a “disaster” for Coleen.
He said: “This makes it much harder for Coleen to prove the truth of the allegation because she will have to show that it was Rebekah herself who was leaking the stories.”
Coleen was also ordered to pay Rebekah almost £23,000 in court costs.
July 2021 – Rebekah succeeds in having parts of Coleen defence thrown out
At a hearing, lawyers for Rebekah asked the High Court judge to strike parts of Coleen’s defence from the evidence as they were “irrelevant or peripheral” to the case.
This included allegations of Rebekah’s close relationship with The Sun and her alleged but denied authorship of “The Secret Wag” column.
At the High Court, Mrs Justice Steyn agreed to dismiss a claim by Coleen that her fellow footballer’s wife showed “publicity seeking behaviour” when sitting behind Coleen in someone else’s seat at the 2016 Euros.
Mrs Justice Steyn found that even assuming the allegation was true, it would still not help Coleen’s case.
She said: “The fact that a person seeks media coverage of their own attendance at a football match does not make it more probable that they would disclose private information about another person to the press.”
However, Coleen’s lawyers argued it demonstrated Rebekah’s “history and practice of publicly disclosing private information about other people she was friendly or associated with”.
November 2021 – Coleen had ‘dummy run’ before launching case
It was reported Wayne Rooney’s wife carried out a “dummy run” before launching her Wagatha Christie molehunt.
Court documents obtained by The Sun revealed the lengths Coleen went to as she tried to identify who was leaking the stories from her inner circle.
The doting mum realised her private Instagram account was the source, sifting her way through 300 accounts of “trusted friends and family” in a bid to draw up a list of possible suspects.
Coleen invented fake posts which were “interspersed with true or mundane ones” to give the impression her Instagram account was running normally.
All but five of the posts were seen by Jamie Vardy’s wife Becky.
Coleen claimed the dummy posts were seen by Becky and one other person – but she said she could not recall the identity of the other individual.
Another of the posts was seen by former Manchester United midfielder, Tom Cleverley, while two others were seen by unidentified individuals.
According to the documents, none of the posts were leaked to the press.
“This led to her belief that it was the Claimant who was responsible for the leak, given her established history and habitual practice of providing private information to journalists and the Press,” the court document read.
“The Defendant had also heard rumours that the Claimant was responsible for similar leaks or disclosure of private information from other so-called WAGS or celebrities.”
February 2022 – Rebekah brands Coleen a ‘c**t’ in text messages
The High Court heard how Rebekah described Coleen as a ‘c**t’ and a ‘nasty bitch’ in private Whatsapp messages.
In another explosive message to her agent, Rebekah said of Coleen: “She’s such a d**k.”
She added of Coleen in a further exchange: “She’s a nasty b***h. I have taken a big dislike to her. She thinks she’s amazing.”
“We still need to make money,” she wrote.
David Sherborne, for Coleen, told the court Coleen felt Rebekah’s agent Caroline Watt should be included in the case as she leaked the information.
He said: “Mrs Vardy knew exactly what Ms Watt was doing. Mrs Vardy encouraged her to do it. She knew it was happening.
“That is the reason to bring Ms Watt into the proceedings.”
Mr Sherborne said Rebekah directed Caroline to look at Coleen’s private Instagram account.
“They were both routinely looking at private views with a view to getting them published.”
Mr Sherborne told the court: “Ms Watt’s mobile phone accidentally slipped out of her hand overboard on a boat in the North Sea. The boat was unfortunately hit by a wave.”
“Mrs Vardy’s data was lost in the middle of downloading it to her solicitors,” he said.
April 2022 – ‘Key’ witness in battle won’t give evidence
On Wednesday, the High Court was told Rebekah’s agent is not fit to give oral evidence in her upcoming trial against Coleen.
Hugh Tomlinson QC, for Rebekah, said that Caroline could not give evidence.
In written arguments, Mr Tomlinson said: “The claimant served a witness statement of Caroline Watt with the intention of calling Ms Watt to give oral evidence at the trial. The claimant’s solicitors were, however, aware that Ms Watt was in a fragile state and had been expressing serious concerns about giving evidence.”
He added that a consultant forensic psychiatrist produced a report which came to the conclusion Caroline is not fit to provide evidence in court.
“In these circumstances, it is clear that Ms Watt cannot be called to give evidence,” he concluded.
Mr Sherborne argued Caroline is a “key witness” for the trial with “critical” evidence.
In written arguments, Mr Sherborne said: “The defendant has serious concerns about the lack of any opportunity to cross-examine Ms Watt on her statement given the real concerns about its truthfulness and reliability and the central importance of her role in the allegations complained of.
“Ms Watt is now saying that she is too ill to attend court to be cross-examined on the events and allegations concerning her, although she was and is able to provide a lengthy witness statement about them, provided she is not questioned about it. The defendant’s position is that Ms Watt’s concern about giving evidence is because of the realisation that her evidence is untrue and therefore she is scared of being tested upon it.”
The hearing before Mrs Justice Steyn continues.