Wagatha Christie day 2: Rebekah Vardy arrives at High Court to face Coleen Rooney

Wagatha Christie day 1 recap: C*** slurs, WAG photo wars, Scooby Doo… and chipolatas

TEAM VARDY:  

TEAM ROONEY  

Rebekah Vardy has arrived at the High Court for the second day of her Wagatha Christie showdown against Coleen Rooney – after a string of bitter exchanges at the bombshell opening of the £3million libel case. 

Rebekah, 40, is expected to take to the witness stand again this morning after repeatedly denying being a leaker during her yesterday’s testimony, before being confronted about comments she made comparing Peter Andre’s manhood to a ‘chipolata’. 

The first day of the ‘libel trial of the century’ certainly did not disappoint, featuring foul-mouthed Whatsapp messages and squabbles about seating arrangements at the 2016 Euros among a raft of vicious claim and counterclaim.       

The WAGs have been at war since October 2019 after Coleen, 36, accused Rebekah of leaking ‘false stories’ about her private life, before claiming she had uncovered the culprit after carrying out a social media ‘sting operation’.

Coleen publicly claimed Rebekah shared three fake stories she had posted on her personal Instagram with The Sun, a claim Rebekah vehemently denied – leading her to launch the costly libel action which has finally reached trial. 

Yesterday, the High Court heard how Rebekah gave intimate details of a sexual encounter with pop star Peter Andre and mocked the size of his manhood in a kiss-and-tell newspaper interview.

Confronted by Coleen’s lawyer, the WAG said she had been ‘forced’ to take part in the 2004 News Of The World article – in which she compared Andre’s manhood to a ‘chipolata’ – by her ex-husband.

Hitting out afterwards, Andre – who appeared on I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here! in 2004 – wrote on Instagram: ‘Do you know how hard it is to keep biting my lip on situations?

‘But the way I look at it, most people saw in the jungle how an acorn turned into an oak so I think I’m ok.’

Outlining Coleen’s defence case yesterday afternoon, her barrister David Sherborne told Mrs Justice Steyn, who is hearing the trial: ‘In essence, this is a detective story, and like any good detective story, you never find a person standing over the body with a smoking gun.’

He said there was ‘inference’, telling Mrs Justice Steyn: ‘You do not have to be convinced beyond reasonable doubt, you just have to conclude that it is more likely than not that Mrs Vardy was responsible, either directly or through Ms (Caroline – Mrs Vardy’s friend and agent) Watt.’

Mr Sherborne continued: ‘If (Rebekah Vardy) gave Ms Watt the gun and the bullets, told her where to target them, told her what was happening and when, that makes her just as responsible as the person who pulled the trigger.

‘To use an analogy, it is like hiring a hitman or woman.’

He said there were, in text message exchanges between Rebekah and Ms Watt, examples of the pair discussing leaking other people’s private information.

He added: ‘Mrs Vardy is just as responsible for leaking information which someone else doesn’t want shared with the press, even if she doesn’t pull the trigger and send it across herself.

‘Of course, we say the same is true of leaks from Mrs Rooney’s private Instagram account.’

Rebekah Vardy arrives at the Royal Courts Of Justice in London for the second day of the Wagatha Christie libel trial 

Mr Sherborne said there were ‘only two real suspects’ and that any suggestion someone may have hacked into Coleen’s account to access her private information was ‘wild speculation, wild theory, because there is no evidence whatsoever to support it’.

Got it in the can, Wayne? Camera crew follows Rooneys doing ‘staged’ walk after Wagatha Christie libel trial showdown after Coleen signed up for Netflix documentary 

The Rooneys were followed by a film crew while doing a ‘staged walk’ after the first day of the Wagatha Christie libel showdown yesterday after Coleen signed up for a Netflix documentary.  

Coleen and her former England star husband, Wayne, both 36, were spotted walking down a pavement near the High Court while receiving instructions from a production team and a woman carrying a ‘documentary-style’ camera. 

It comes after it emerged Coleen had signed a deal to make a documentary telling her side of the case – which has pitted her against her WAG rival, Rebekah Vardy, 40. 

Coleen and her former England star husband, Wayne, both 36, were spotted walking up and down a street near the High Court while being filmed by a camera crew

Coleen and her former England star husband, Wayne, both 36, were spotted walking up and down a street near the High Court while being filmed by a camera crew 

An onlooker told MailOnline: ‘When Coleen and Wayne came out of court they didn’t get into a car like everyone else does, they walked across the road and down an alleyway. 

‘That’s where they all congregated and started laughing and chatting – which was interesting to see after a serious day in court. 

‘Then a producer set up a camera on a tripod and started staging them walking up and down the road – it was almost like scripted reality.’ 

Wayne (middle) was accompanied by his agent, Paul Stretford (left) and members of his wife's legal team

Wayne (middle) was accompanied by his agent, Paul Stretford (left) and members of his wife’s legal team 

He added: ‘There is plenty of evidence, inference and circumstance we say, that Mrs Vardy knew and approved of Ms Watt (leaking private information).’

The barrister said that text exchanges show that Rebekah and her ‘PR, agent and close friend’ worked ‘hand in glove’ together.

Both footballers’ wives sat just feet apart in court, in front of their barristers, with Rebekah wearing a smart navy dress and Coleen , accompanied by her husband, dressed in a black suit with a navy top with a moon boot on her left foot.

Mr Sherborne told the court Coleen was appearing at the trial ‘not because she wants to, she’s here because she has to be’.

‘She’s been brought here because of something she wrote,’ he added. She did not want to have to write it any more than she wants to be here.’

In his written submissions, Mr Sherborne said there had been ‘widespread and significant destruction or loss of evidence’ in the case, which notably include the loss of Ms Watt’s phone in the North Sea.

‘To borrow from Wilde, to lose one significant set of documents may be regarded as a misfortune, to lose two, carelessness, but to lose 10? That must be concealment,’ he wrote.

Mr Sherborne later argued that Coleen had proved her case ‘despite the deliberate destruction of evidence’ by Rebekah and Ms Watt.

The barrister continued in written submissions: ‘Despite the lies of both the claimant and Ms Watt, it is clear, at least on the balance of probabilities, which is all that is necessary, that the leaks arose from the habitual and established practice of the claimant: leaking information about those she knew via Ms Watt to The Sun and others.

‘This was a sustained betrayal of the defendant’s trust.’

However, Rebekah’s barrister, Hugh Tomlinson QC, said the suggestion that Rebekah and Ms Watt were involved in a ‘conspiracy’ and ‘campaign of deletion’ in relation to evidence in the case is ‘completely baseless’.

Earlier yesterday, Mr Tomlinson told the court that it had not been suggested ‘that Mrs Vardy was anywhere near the North Sea at the time’ Ms Watt’s phone fell into the water, nor that she ‘knew anything about it’.

He said there was a ‘credible, ordinary, boring explanation’ behind media files on Rebekah’s WhatsApp no longer being available.

‘It’s a very well-known and common feature in everyone’s life that from time-to-time electronic documents are lost for all kinds of reasons,’ he said, adding: ‘This is something that happens to us all that sometimes documents are lost.’

Mr Tomlinson claimed the issue had affected Coleen too, telling the court that her PR’s email account was deleted in February 2020 and as a result ‘a crucial email about one of the articles has gone’.

Mr Tomlinson also said Rebekah had to bring the libel claim to ‘vindicate her reputation’.

He said in written submissions: ‘The allegation in the post was and remains false: Mrs Vardy had not leaked information about Mrs Rooney or her friends and family to the Sun newspaper from her private Instagram account.

‘Mrs Rooney did not have the ‘irrefutable’ evidence that she claimed to have had: her so-called ‘careful investigation’ was nothing of the sort.

‘If anyone had been leaking information from Mrs Rooney’s private Instagram this was not done with Mrs Vardy’s knowledge or approval.’ 

Happier times: Rebekah and Coleen celebrating England's win against Wales at Stade Bollaert-Delelis in France in 2016. The moment was discussed in court today

Peter Andre

Happier times: Rebekah and Coleen celebrating England’s win against Wales at Stade Bollaert-Delelis in France in 2016 (left) and singer Peter Andre (right) 

The barrister also said that Coleen’s alleged investigation into the leaks ‘was in fact a pre-determined blinkered operation with the aim of ‘outing’ Mrs Vardy’.

Coleen is defending the claim on the basis of truth and public interest.

The fake stories Coleen planted on her Instagram during the sting operation featured her travelling to Mexico for a ‘gender selection’ procedure, her planning to return to TV, and the basement flooding at her home.

In a now infamous post on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, she wrote: ‘I have saved and screenshotted all the original stories which clearly show just one person has viewed them.

‘It’s ………. Rebekah Vardy’s account.’      

Wagatha Christie timeline: How Coleen and Rebekah’s long-running, vicious war unfolded before the eyes of the world 

September 2017 to October 2019 – The Sun runs a number of articles about Coleen, including that she travelled to Mexico to look into baby ‘gender selection’ treatment, her plan to revive her TV career and the flooding of her basement.

October 9, 2019 – Coleen uses social media to accuse Rebekah of selling stories from her private Instagram account to the tabloids.

Coleen says she spent five months attempting to work out who was sharing information about her and her family based on posts she had made on her personal social media page.

After sharing a series of ‘false’ stories and using a process of elimination, Coleen claims they were viewed by one Instagram account, belonging to Rebekah.

Rebekah, then pregnant with her fifth child, denies the allegations and says various people had access to her Instagram over the years.

She claims to be ‘so upset’ by Coleen’s accusation, later adding: ‘I thought she was my friend but she completely annihilated me.’

The public dispute makes headlines around the world, with the hashtag #WagathaChristie trending.

How it all began: On October 9, 2019, Coleen Rooney, now 36, accused Rebekah Vardy, 40, of leaking 'false stories' about her to the press in an Instagram post (above)

How it all began: On October 9, 2019, Coleen Rooney, now 36, accused Rebekah Vardy, 40, of leaking ‘false stories’ about her to the press in an Instagram post (above) 

Shortly after Coleen's public accusation, Rebekah - who was pregnant and on holiday in Dubai at the time - denied any involvement (above)

Shortly after Coleen’s public accusation, Rebekah – who was pregnant and on holiday in Dubai at the time – denied any involvement (above) 

February 13, 2020 – In a tearful appearance on ITV’s Loose Women, Rebekah says the stress of the dispute caused her to have severe anxiety attacks and she ‘ended up in hospital three times’. Coleen says in a statement that she does not want to ‘engage in further public debate’.

June 23, 2020 – It emerges that Rebekah has launched libel proceedings against Coleen.

Rebekah’s lawyers allege she ‘suffered extreme distress, hurt, anxiety and embarrassment as a result of the publication of the post and the events which followed’.

November 19-20, 2020 – The libel battle has its first High Court hearing in London. A judge rules that Coleen’s October 2019 post ‘clearly identified’ Rebekah as being ‘guilty of the serious and consistent breach of trust’.

Mr Justice Warby concludes that the ‘natural and ordinary’ meaning of the posts was that Rebekah had ‘regularly and frequently abused her status as a trusted follower of Coleen’s personal Instagram account by secretly informing The Sun of Coleen’s private posts and stories’.

February 8-9, 2022 – A series of explosive messages between Rebekah and her agent Caroline Watt – which Coleen’s lawyers allege were about her – are revealed at a preliminary court hearing.

The court is told Rebekah was not referring to Coleen when she called someone a ‘nasty bitch’ in one exchange with Ms Watt.

Coleen’s lawyers seek further information from the WhatsApp messages, but the court is told that Ms Watt’s phone fell into the North Sea after a boat she was on hit a wave, before further information could be extracted from it.

February 14 – Coleen is refused permission to bring a High Court claim against Ms Watt for misuse of private information to be heard alongside the libel battle. A High Court judge, Mrs Justice Steyn, says the bid was brought too late and previous opportunities to make the claim had not been taken.

April 13 – Ms Watt is not fit to give oral evidence at the upcoming libel trial, the High Court is told as the case returns for another hearing.

The agent revokes permission for her witness statement to be used, and withdraws her waiver which would have allowed Sun journalists to say whether she was a source of the allegedly leaked stories.

April 29 – Rebekah ‘appears to accept’ that her agent was the source of allegedly leaked stories, Coleen’s barrister David Sherborne tells the High Court. He argues that a new witness statement submitted by Rebekah suggests Ms Watt was the source but Rebekah claims she ‘did not authorise or condone her’.

Rebekah’s lawyer Hugh Tomlinson says the statement did not contain ‘any change whatever in the pleaded case’, with her legal team having no communication with Ms Watt.

Who’s who in the case? Former friends who had a bitter falling out, the former Virgin Atlantic air hostess, and the celebrity lawyers going head to head  

Rebekah Vardy with her agent, Caroline Watt, who had been due to give evidence in the trial but was recently found to be 'not fit' to take part, also withdrawing her written evidence

 Rebekah Vardy with her agent, Caroline Watt, who had been due to give evidence in the trial but was recently found to be ‘not fit’ to take part, also withdrawing her written evidence

Rebekah Vardy

The footballer’s wife bringing the claim, Rebekah’s family was thrust into the limelight after her husband Jamie helped Leicester City on their way to an unlikely Premier League win in 2016.

The model and TV personality, 40, appeared on I’m A Celebrity in 2017 before later appearing on Dancing On Ice in 2021, as well as making appearances on Loose Women.

The mother-of-five recently wrote a children’s book with her husband Jamie, entitled Cedric The Little Sloth With A Big Dream, which follows a little sloth who hopes to become a footballer. 

Coleen Rooney

Coleen, the footballer’s wife defending the claim, is perhaps now better known as ‘Wagatha Christie’ after her social media posts at the heart of the libel trial went viral.

The 36-year-old has had a varied career including TV presenting, writing, as well as fronting an exercise DVD.

Coleen met her husband when she was 12, as the couple went to the same school in Liverpool.

They began dating when they both turned 16 and have four sons together – Kai Wayne, Klay Anthony, Kit Joseph and Cass Mac.

Caroline Watt

Mrs Vardy’s friend and agent, Ms Watt has featured in some of the preliminary hearings, despite not being a party to the claim or giving evidence at the trial.

She is a former Virgin Atlantic air hostess who has been Rebekah’s agent for the past seven years, helping to build her profile in the national media.

Reports that she no longer represents her following the current controversy engulfing the two have been dismissed as inaccurate with Ms Watt remaining close to Ms Vardy both professionally and personally.

Ms Watt, 39, is married to former footballer Steve Watt, who played briefly for Chelsea, making one Premier League appearance for two minutes in 2005 and Swansea City. He is currently manager of Kent non-league side Hythe Town and they have two children.

After leaving the airline industry, Ms Watt began working as an agent in the world of entertainment, quickly developing a reputation for her communication skills and ability to network.

She was formerly employed by talent agency The Frontrow Partnership but left in 2019 to go it alone and took her main client and close friend, Ms Vardy with her.

Ms Watt has been credited with building Ms Vardy’s public profile by ensuring that she regularly featured in the national media and also brokered the deal for her to appear on the hit reality TV show I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! in 2018.

Ms Watt started representing the high-profile WAG in 2015, when her husband, Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy shot to fame.

She is a regular visitor to the Vardy’s Lincolnshire home and also socialises with Ms Vardy, attending glitzy parties and bars.

Her other clients include the former Page 3 girl Nicola McLean but it is Ms Vardy that has been the biggest asset in her career as an agent. 

Hugh Tomlinson QC (pictured), who is representing Ms Vardy, is a top-flight privacy silk who has launched a number of battles with the Press in a wide-spanning career

Meanwhile, David Sherborne (pictured), 53, who has been dubbed one of Hollywood’s favourite lawyers, is acting for Mrs Rooney

Hugh Tomlinson QC (left), who is representing Ms Vardy, is a top-flight privacy silk who has launched a number of battles with the Press in a wide-spanning career. David Sherborne (right), 53, is acting for Mrs Rooney

Hugh Tomlinson QC

An experienced media barrister, Mr Tomlinson is at the front of Mrs Vardy’s legal team in the libel case.

Called to the bar in 1983, his previous clients include the Prince of Wales in his legal battle against the Mail on Sunday over his diaries, easyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou and oligarch Roman Abramovich.

Mr Tomlinson, who became a QC in 2002, is a board member of campaign group Hacked Off.

David Sherborne

Mr Sherborne also has a reputation as the barrister the rich and famous turn to for legal assistance – his previous client list includes Diana, Princess of Wales, Hollywood actor Michael Douglas and former prime minister Tony Blair and his wife Cherie.

Mrs Rooney’s barrister is no stranger to high-profile libel trials at the Royal Courts of Justice, notably representing Johnny Depp in the actor’s 2020 libel claim against the publisher of the Sun, News Group Newspapers (NGN).

The barrister, called to the bar in 1992, has also represented dozens of claimants, including celebrities, suing NGN over phone hacking at the News Of The World.

Mrs Justice Steyn

The High Court judge overseeing the case, Mrs Justice Steyn (pictured right) was appointed in 2019 and sits in the Queen’s Bench Division – the part of the High Court which deals with defamation, personal injury and breach of contract claims.

As well as overseeing the ‘Wagatha Christie’ claim, other prominent cases she has heard include Arron Banks’ libel claim against journalist Carole Cadwalladr and the FDA union’s unsuccessful legal challenge over Boris Johnson’s decision to support Priti Patel following bullying accusations.

The daughter of former Law Lord Lord Steyn, Mrs Justice Steyn covered a variety of cases as a barrister, including a case over the expansion of Heathrow airport.  

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk

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