“Wagatha Christie”: The trial of two influencers that fascinates England

LONDON | False stories on Instagram, allegations of press leaks, lawsuits for defamation… The incredible trial between Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy, two influencers first known as the wives of English footballers, opened in London on Tuesday.

The case is generating such interest in the UK that it has a nickname of its own: “Wagatha Christie” – WAG (Wives and Girlfriends) is an acronym used to refer to the companions of famous athletes.

Dozens of photographers crowded 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 watch the case, and the court also set up video streaming in the basement for those unable to seat.

In the trial, scheduled to last until May 18, Rebekah Vardy is suing Coleen Rooney for defamation after she accused her of leaking information to the English tabloid.

Rebekah Vardy

It all started in October 2019 when Coleen Rooney, wife of former England soccer star Wayne Rooney, accused Rebekah Vardy, who was married to Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy, of broadcasting to the tabloid The sun “fake stories” about them.

In a posting on Instagram and Twitter, which was widely shared and ridiculed by netizens, Ms Rooney explained that she realized what she posted on her private account would be published regularly in the newspaper, which at the time was a column for Soccer women had players.

Coleen Rooney

Suspicious of Ms Vardy, she explained that she conducted the investigation by “blocking every one of my stories but ONE account” and posting false stories about her life – including a trip to Mexico to select her child’s gender – to see whether they ended up in the tabloids, what they did.

“I took screenshots that clearly show that only one person saw the stories,” she said. “It’s… Rebekah Vardy’s account.”

Mrs Vardy had said no and decided to sue Mrs Rooney for defamation. Under UK law, it is now up to Ms Rooney to prove the accuracy of the allegations made.

– “False allegations” – The case had already been brought to court in November 2020. At that time, the judge concluded that Ms Rooney had “conclusively identified Ms Vardy as guilty”, thereby clearing the way for a defamation trial.

Wayne Rooney

“The allegations in the Post were and remain false: Ms Vardy has not disclosed any information to The Sun newspaper about Ms Rooney or her friends or family,” her lawyer Hugh Tomlinson said in his written filings on Tuesday.

According to the famous lawyer, his client tried to avoid a lawsuit, but the publication was not deleted, “Ms Vardy had no choice but to file a defamation lawsuit to prove her innocence”.

If Coleen Rooney, 36, and Rebekah Vardy, 40, became public figures because of their relationships with footballers, they’ve since been “people” in their own right. Followed by hundreds of thousands of subscribers on Instagram, they regularly share photos of their respective children.

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