Last Friday, a judge in London’s High Court of Justice ruled in the libel case that has come to be known as “Wagatha Christie.” The case involved two WAGs (an acronym for “wives and girlfriends,” for the uninitiated), Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney, the wives of England international soccer players Jamie Vardy and Wayne Rooney, respectively.
The judge ruled that Rebekah Vardy, who alleges she had been libeled by Coleen Rooney when the latter accused her of leaking stories about the Rooneys’ private lives to a national newspaper in 2019, was incorrect. The judge also said that Rooney’s claims were substantially true. So ended a story that began with a tweet and eventually made its way to one of the highest courts in the United Kingdom. This story includes a 300-year-old legal precedent, a very (in)convenient trip to the North Sea, and (probably) a new world record for the most F-bombs dropped in a court of law.
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With a Wagatha Christie documentary now in the very early stages at Netflix, here is everything to know about the case and what to expect.
What Is the Wagatha Christie Case About?
It is fair to say there was no love lost between Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney. Though their husbands were England teammates, Vardy and Rooney began to chafe against one another when the British tabloid newspaper The Sun – the same newspaper Johnny Depp unsuccessfully sued in 2020 – began to publish story after story about the Rooneys. The source for these stories appeared to derive from Coleen Rooney’s private Instagram account, which was accessible by a few hundred of her friends and acquaintances at that time.
So Coleen Rooney turned amateur sleuth. Having had her suspicions, she surreptitiously blocked every person save one from accessing the account and then began to post fake story after fake story. Sure enough, the fakes found their way into the pages of The Sun, each more improbable than the last. The made-up stories included a supposed gender selection trip made by the Rooneys to Mexico and an episode of catastrophic flooding in the basement of the Rooney’s multi-million-pound mansion.
On October 9, 2019, Coleen Rooney went public, tweeting to her followers that the one account that had access to this stream of made-up stories was Rebekah Vardy’s account. Vardy denied wrongdoing, and one lawsuit later, the two women found themselves in court facing Mrs. Justice Steyn.
Rebekah Vardy won the opening rounds. In late 2020 a judge ruled that Rooney would have to prove Vardy passed on the stories personally — a task widely seen as an uphill struggle. But then several WhatsApp messages from Rebekah Vardy to her agent Caroline Watt that spoke of “leaking stories” emerged. If not exactly proof positive, they hardly helped Vardy’s case.
Then things got truly weird. Earlier this year, Vardy claimed that she could not provide the court with copies of the rest of her WhatsApp messages sent to her agent because they had mysteriously disappeared when she tried to send them to her lawyers. No problem, you might think. Presumably, Watt had received the same messages and could provide them instead. Except that the agent admitted that her phone was at the bottom of the North Sea. She was, so she claimed, “filming the coastline” at the time when she dropped it.
Rooney’s lawyer was having none of it and earned props for digging out a 300-year-old court case to show that if evidence that once existed is seen to be missing, the court should assume it to be of the highest value. The gambit swung the case Rooney’s way.
The contrast between Vardy and Rooney could not be starker. Rebekah Vardy has the image of the attention-seeker, appearing in several reality TV shows such as I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!, while Coleen Rooney has carefully cultivated the image of the “girl next door,” having dated Rooney from their high school days in Liverpool onward. Rooney also had the sympathy of the British public, having suffered through the indiscretions of her husband, all dutifully reported on in the British press. But the combination of arcane points of law, designer clothes, text messages littered with expletives, and two footballers doing the spear-carrying for their warring wives will make the documentary must-see viewing.
According to The Sun, the documentary, which the Rooneys are working on, has already been commissioned by Netflix. No release date has yet been announced, but UK broadcaster Channel 4 may look to beat Netflix to the punch, with a two-part drama-documentary announced earlier this month telling the story of the trial from Rebekah Vardy’s perspective, with actors cast as the wives and their husbands and verbatim transcripts from the trial used in the dramatizations.