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Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney brace for Wagatha Christie showdown at the High Court

Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney brace for Wagatha Christie showdown at the High Court 2

The explosive £3million ‘Wagatha Christie’ libel battle between Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney gets underway at London’s High Court today, marking the culmination of a bitter feud between the high-profile WAGS.

Coleen has been at war with Rebekah since October 2019 after accusing her of leaking ‘false stories’ about her private life to the media, before claiming that she uncovered the culprit after carrying out a social media ‘sting operation’.

The wife of ex-England star Wayne Rooney publicly slammed her fellow footballer’s wife for leaking the stories to The Sun, which Rebekah vehemently denied, leading her to launch today’s costly libel action.

Both women are expected to give evidence in court, as well as Wayne Rooney himself. 

As well as intense interest from British media, Coleen is believed to have agreed for a Netflix documentary to be filmed around her side of the case.

Coleen Rooney

Rebekah Vardy

Coleen Rooney (left) and Rebekah Vardy (right) will go head to head today as their ‘Wagatha Christie’ battle kicks off in the High Court 

Rebekah meanwhile, has been besieged with TV interview requests and pundits expect her to grant one to Piers Morgan after the case is concluded.

The High Court hearing will see two of Britain’s most high-profile lawyers coming face to face with David Sherborne representing Coleen and Ian Tomlinson QC arguing Rebekah’s case.

At the heart of the dispute are three ‘fake’ stories which Coleen maintains that she posted on her personal Instagram stories as she attempted to discover who was leaking information about her and her family.

These were about Coleen claiming that she was travelling to Mexico to find out about gender selection, making a return to TV and flooding taking place at her new home. All three stories later appeared in The Sun.

In a bid to smoke out the culprit, Coleen said she had altered the privacy settings to make the posts visible to just one person’s account – Rebekah’s.

In a famous post identifying the culprit, Coleen 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.’

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) 

Shortly after the accusation, Rebekah – who was pregnant and on holiday in Dubai at the time – denied any involvement.

She hit back on social media, writing: ‘As I have just said to you [Coleen] on the phone, I wish you had called me if you thought this.

‘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, and I could have changed passwords to see if it stopped.

‘Over the years various people have had access to my Insta and just this week I found out 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?’

Around the same time, she sent a text to Caroline Watt, her then publicist declaring ‘That’s war’, according to evidence put before the court in the subsequent proceedings.

In February 2020 in a tearful appearance on ITV’s Loose Women, Rebekah said the stress of the dispute caused her to have severe anxiety attacks and she ‘ended up in hospital three times’.

A few months later in June 2020, the bombshell emerged that Rebekah had launched libel proceedings against Coleen.

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

In November 2020, lawyers for both parties met at the first High Court hearing in London.

In a key ‘meanings hearing’, Mr Justice Warbys ruled that Coleen’s October 2019 post ‘clearly identified’ Rebekah as being ‘guilty of the serious and consistent breach of trust’.

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

The judge concluded 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’.

Under English defamation law, the burden of proof now will be on Coleen to prove that her post was ‘substantially true’.

The full trial follows months of preliminary hearings – none of which were attended by either woman.

In February, Coleen’s barrister David Sherborne told the High Court that a ‘series of unfortunate events’ had befallen some of the key evidence in the case, notably Ms Watt’s phone falling into the North Sea from a boat she was on.

Rebekah’s lawyers have said she has ‘nothing to hide’.

Most recently, the High Court was told by Mr Sherborne that Rebekah ‘appears to accept’ that Ms Watt was the source of leaked stories about Coleen that were published in The Sun.

Hugh Tomlinson QC, for Rebekah, told the court that his client’s new witness statement did not contain ‘any change whatever in the pleaded case’.

Ms Watt 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.

Mr Tomlinson said: ‘We simply don’t know what the true position is in relation to Ms Watt… She’s not communicating with anybody.’

The trial in front of Mrs Justice Steyn is expected to last seven days.

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.

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.

From gender selection to a flooded basement: The ‘false’ stories Coleen claims to have planted on her Instagram during ‘sting’ operation 

Three ‘false’ stories Coleen Rooney claims to have planted on her private Instagram account as part of a months-long ‘sting operation’ are at the heart of her libel battle with Rebekah Vardy.

Coleen accused her fellow footballer’s wife of leaking the information to the Sun newspaper in a now infamous social media post – something Rebekah denies.

Here, we look at what has been claimed about the stories:

The gender selection article

Coleen claims to have posted the first of her ‘sting operation’ posts about a so-called gender-selection treatment on April 8 2019.

The post featured a photograph of the back seat of an airplane overlaid with the text ‘Let’s go and see what this gender selection is all about’, Coleen claims.

She alleges that the invented post was marked on Instagram as ‘seen’ only by Rebekah’s account, her lawyers have told the High Court.

In August that year, the Sun published an article claiming Coleen travelled to Mexico to look into the treatment.

The story, carrying journalist Andy Halls’s byline, is headlined ‘COL’S BABY GIRL BID Coleen Rooney travelled to Mexico to look into £8k ‘gender selection’ treatment in desperate bid to have baby girl’.

The article, referring to ‘a source’ and ‘pals’, alleged Coleen is ‘so desperate for her fifth baby to be a girl’ that she wants to hear more about a process ‘in which doctors examine embryos in a lab before implanting only those of the desired gender back into the womb’.

TV decisions article

A private ‘false’ post about planning a return to TV is made on September 25 2019, Coleen claims.

She says it featured a ‘selfie’ and the text ‘Up and out!! Easing my way back into work!! TV decisions today…. maybe it’s time for Australia’.

Coleen’s lawyers claimed in her High Court defence that the post was only accessible by Rebekah’s account.

Three days later, a Sun article under Michael Hamilton’s byline was published under the headline ‘ROO-MBA Coleen Rooney in talks to join Strictly next year as she looks to revive TV career when Wayne returns to UK’.

It quoted an anonymous source and claimed to exclusively reveal Coleen was ‘locked in talks with producers’, planned to ‘front a fashion programme’ and ‘could well do’ the Strictly Come Dancing TV show.

The flooded basement article

Coleen says she shared false information about her basement being flooded on October 2 2019, the third ‘sting operation’ post.

Her lawyers have again alleged to the High Court that the post was only accessible to Rebekah’s account.

On October 8, The Sun published a story, with Simon Boyle’s byline, headlined: ‘IN ROO-INS Wayne and Coleen Rooney’s £20million ‘Morrisons mansion’ flooded during Storm Lorenzo’.

The article, quoting a ‘source close to the couple’, claimed to reveal that bad weather had ‘wreaked havoc’ at a Cheshire property, with Coleen being ‘called in to find the cellar had been flooded’. 

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