Coleen Rooney, the wife of British soccer star Wayne Rooney, has won the high-profile libel case slapped against her by fellow WAG Rebekah Vardy — bringing an end to the dramatic trial dubbed “Wagatha Christie” by British media.
After three years of expensive legal back-and-forth, Judge Justice Karen Steyn handed down her ruling Friday morning.
In her ruling, released online, Mrs Justice Steyn determined it was “likely” that Rebekah Vardy’s then-agent, Caroline Watt “undertook the direct act” of leaking stories from Rooney’s private Instagram account to British tabloid, The Sun.
The explosive feud kicked off in 2019 when Rooney sensationally accused Rebekah, the spouse of Leicester City player Jamie Vardy, of leaking stories to the newspaper.
Rebekah, who vehemently denied the allegations, responded by slapping Coleen with a libel lawsuit.
The evidence “clearly shows, in my view, that Ms Vardy knew of and condoned this behaviour, actively engaging in it by directing Ms Watt to the Private Instagram Account, sending her screenshots of Ms Rooney’s posts, drawing attention to items of potential interest to the press, and answering additional queries raised by the press via Ms Watt,” Judge Steyn wrote.
The legal battle has been dubbed the “Wagatha Christie” case, a reference to the renowned author of detective novels, in honor of Rooney’s amateur sleuthing.
In October 2019, Rooney shared a lengthy post on her Twitter and Instagram accounts, suggesting “for a few years now someone who I trusted to follow me on my personal Instagram account has been consistently informing The SUN newspaper of my private posts and stories.”
The television personality said “after a long time of trying to figure out who it could be, for various reasons,” she had a gut feeling and formulated a plan on how to oust this mystery person.
“I blocked everyone from viewing my Instagram stories except ONE account,” Rooney said at the time. “Over the past five months I have posted a series of false stories to see if they made their way into the Sun newspaper. And you know what, they did!”
Rooney noted that she “saved and screenshotted all the original stories which clearly show just one person has viewed them,” claiming it was “Rebekah Vardy’s account.”
Vardy addressed the allegations on Twitter the same day, tagging Rooney in her post.
“As I have just said to you on the phone, I wish you had called me if you thought this,” she tweeted in October 2019.
“I never speak to anyone about you as various journalists who have asked me to over the years can vouch for. If you thought this was happening you could have told me & I could have changed my passwords to see if it stopped.”
Vardy continued that “various people have had access” to her Instagram account over the years, adding, “just this week I found I was following people I didn’t know and have never followed myself.”
“I’m not being funny but I don’t need the money, what would I gain from selling stories on you?” she wrote. “I liked you a lot Coleen & I’m so upset that you have chosen to do this, especially when I’m heavily pregnant.”
Vardy later filed a libel claim against Rooney in June 2020, setting the scene for a court battle that is estimated to have totaled over $3.7 million in legal costs.
The case appeared in court for the first time in November 2020, after a judge said Rooney’s post “clearly identified” Vardy as being “guilty of the serious and consistent breach of trust.”