Since Tuesday and for a week, the wives of footballer Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney have been facing a London court. The first, wife of Jamie Vardy, accuses the second, companion of Wayne Rooney, of defamation, against the background of leaks of people news in the tabloids.
The “Wagatha Christie” affair is picking up again. This nickname, which pays homage (or not) to the British novelist, refers to the acronym WAG for “Wives and girlfriends”, an expression used in the United Kingdom to designate the companions of famous sportsmen. 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.
False stories on Instagram, accusations of leaks in the press, defamation lawsuits… This story has been unleashing passions for a few years. In this trial, which is due to last until May 18, Rebekah Vardy is suing Coleen Rooney for defamation, because the latter accused her of having leaked information to the English tabloids.
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.
The surprising Coleen Rooney investigation
It all started in October 2019 when Coleen Rooney, the wife of former English football star Wayne Rooney, accused Rebekah Vardy, married to international striker Jamie Vardy, of having transmitted to the tabloid The Sun “false stories” about 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 which clearly show that only one person had seen [les stories]”, she said. “It’s … Rebekah Vardy’s account,” she then concluded.
“I gave no information to the newspapers”
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,” Rebekah Vardy told the court on Tuesday. “The accusations in the post were and remain false,” added his famous lawyer, Hugh Tomlinson, in his written submissions.
The case had already ended up in court in November 2020. At the time, the judge concluded that Coleen Rooney “clearly identified” Rebekah 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.