Jamie Vardy is one of English football’s most prolific strikers. But thanks to his wife, his surname will be forever associated with one of the all-time great legal own goals. Rebekah Vardy has spectacularly lost her high-profile libel battle against Coleen Rooney in the so-called ‘Wagatha Christie’ case.
It’s hard to overstate how damning today’s judgment is of Vardy: Mrs Justice Steyn said that Vardy’s evidence, which she had treated ‘with very considerable caution’, ‘was manifestly inconsistent with the contemporaneous documentary evidence’ and was ‘evasive’ or ‘implausible’. She also decided that Rooney’s Instagram post – which sparked the bust-up between the two WAGs in the first place – was ‘substantially true’.
Even before today’s verdict, Vardy had lost in the court of public opinion. The war of words between the pair painted both Rooney and Vardy in a bad light. But if Rooney emerges from the case as one of the brighter and more scrupulous characters in the milieu of footballers’ wives and girlfriends, to say nothing of an intrepid amateur investigator, Vardy does not. No doubt she will now find herself paying a fortune in legal fees.
Vardy will also have a long time to reflect on an old adage: in every trial, the lawyers are the only winners. The case arose because Rooney, suspicious that stories from her private social media were being regularly leaked to the tabloids, set a trap by creating fake information that an increasingly limited pool of her followers had access to. Once she was certain the culprit was Vardy, she revealed her suspicions to the world in an Instagram post, dramatically ending with the revelation that: ‘it was….Rebekah Vardy’s account.’
Vardy, stung by the humiliation, should have taken that social media slap down on the chin. Instead, she duly announced her intention to sue Rooney for libel. A protracted, expensive and often hilarious court case ensued. It did not help Vardy’s case that ‘a series of unfortunate incidents’ were made public in court, such as a mobile phone with crucial evidence on it accidentally being dropped in the North Sea. The publication of text messages between her and her agent Caroline Watt about leaking embarrassing news stories – and one text in which Rooney was labelled a ‘c**t’ – also didn’t help matters.
Whether or not there is an appeal, the ruling brings a formal end to one of the most bizarre and colourful celebrity-focused stories of recent years. Even those who neither know nor care about football have found themselves fascinated by the dark revelations of a world in which apparent friendships are undercut by a mixture of venality and jealousy.
But, for the rest of us, the verdict does not spell the end of the saga. A drama has been announced based on the events in court; actors are being sought to play Vardy, Rooney, their husbands and the various lawyers, newspaper hacks and hangers-on. This present-day Satyricon should serve as a cautionary tale to any impressionable type who believes that this kind of fame by association is both easy and lucrative. The Wagatha Christie story has demonstrated that it can be anything but.
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