LONDON | False stories on Instagram, accusations of leaks in the press, defamation suits … The incredible trial between Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy, two influencers first known to be the wives of English footballers, opened on Tuesday in London .
The case is generating such interest in the UK that it has its own nickname Wagatha Christie – STIR (Wives and girlfriends) being an acronym used to designate the companions of famous sportsmen.
Dozens of photographers massed outside the High Court in London and the entrance of two women was filmed for a documentary. Inside, reporters were crammed into a courtroom to follow the case, with the court also setting up video streaming in the basement for those who did not have a seat.
In this trial, which is due to last until May 18, Rebekah Vardy is suing Coleen Rooney for defamation after the latter accused her of having leaked information to the English tabloids.
It all started in October 2019 when Coleen Rooney, the wife of former English football star Wayne Rooney, accused Rebekah Vardy, married to Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy, of having transmitted to the tabloid The sun “false stories” about her.
In a publication on Instagram and Twitter widely relayed and derided by Internet users, Ms. Rooney explained that she had realized that what she published on her private account was regularly published in the newspaper, which at the time had a section devoted to the wives of footballers.
Suspect Mme Vardy, she said she investigated by “blocking everyone from my stories except ONE account” and posting fake stories about her life – including a trip to Mexico to select her child’s gender – to see if they ending up in the tabloid, which it did.
“I took screenshots which clearly showed that only one person had seen” the stories, she had claimed. “It’s… Rebekah Vardy’s account.”
Mme Vardy had denied and decided to attack Mme Rooney sued for defamation. Under British law, it is now up to Mme Rooney to prove the truth of the accusations made.
“I gave no information to the newspapers”, an assured Mme Vardy in court on Tuesday.
“The accusations in the post were and remain false,” added his famous lawyer, Hugh Tomlinson, in his written submissions.
The public relations agent for M.me Vardy, who had access to her client’s Instagram account, is suspected of being behind the leaks. But according to Mr.me Rooney, David Sherborne, “there is plenty of evidence to show that Mr.me Vardy knew and approved of the leaks.
“Yes [Mme Vardy] a given [à son agente] the gun and the bullets, told her where to aim, what happens and when, that makes her just as responsible as the person pulling the trigger,” Sherborne said.
“I didn’t know that was what was going on,” Ms.me Vardi.
The case had already ended up in court in November 2020. At the time, the judge concluded that Mme Rooney ‘clearly identified’ Mme Vardy as “guilty”, paving the way for the libel trial.
While Coleen Rooney, 36, and Rebekah Vardy, 40, have become public figures due to their relationship with footballers, they have been for years people fully fledged. Followed by hundreds of thousands of subscribers on Instagram, they regularly share photos of their respective children.