'Wagatha Christie' Instagram Scandal Trial Starts in U.K.

It's ......... time for the "Wagatha Christie" High Court trial.

Over in the United Kingdom, a high-profile legal battle between the wives of two Premier League footballers over the leaking of stories to the media is beginning today.

The highly anticipated legal showdown between Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy is finally taking place at the Royal Courts of Justice in London after the story first exploded on social media back in 2019.

Vardy, the wife of England and Leicester striker Jamie Vardy, is suing Rooney, the wife of ex-England captain Wayne Rooney, for libel over "untrue and unjustified" accusations about leaked false stories to the press.

Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy
Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney arrive at the High Court in central London for the start of the "Wagatha Christie" libel trial on May 10, 2022. The trial stems from an online spat between top England footballers' wives Vardy and Rooney over leaks to a tabloid newspaper. NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP via Getty Images

One author who has written a book on the subject has likened the trial to the current Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard defamation suit taking place in the U.S.

"The trial is the British equivalent of Johnny Depp vs Amber Heard," Sam Kimberley, author of WAG WARs: The First History of Footballers' Wives told Newsweek.

"Everyone understands entirely the anger on both sides, but to fight out in court is both the ultimate of conspicuous consumption and a cliffhanger because one of the parties will be financially and socially ruined as a result of the outcome," Kimberly said.

What has Vardy been accused of?

In October 2019, Rooney took to Instagram and announced she had been working on a "sting operation" to discover which follower on her private Instagram account was leaking "false stories" she planted to the press.

"For a few years now someone who I trusted to follow me on my personal Instagram account has been consistently informing The Sun newspaper of my private posts and stories," Rooney wrote in the now-famous post.

She explained that she blocked all followers from seeing her stories apart from an Instagram page belonging to Vardy. She then "posted a series of false stories to see if they made their way into The Sun" over the course of five months.

Rooney concluded her post with: "I have saved and screenshotted all the original stories which clearly show just one person has viewed them.

"It's ................ Rebekah Vardy's account."

The full post from Rooney read:

"For a few years now someone who I trusted to follow me on my personal Instagram account has been consistently informing The SUN newspaper of my private posts and stories.There has been so much information given to them about me, my friends and my family – all without my permission or knowledge.After a long time of trying to figure out who it could be, for various reasons, I had a suspicion.To try and prove this, I came up with an idea. I blocked everyone from viewing my Instagram stories except ONE account. (Those on my private account must have been wondering why I haven't had stories on there for a while.)Over the past five months I have posted a series of false stories to see if they made their way into the Sun newspaper. And you know what, they did! The story about gender selection in Mexico, the story about returning to TV and then the latest story about the basement flooding in my new house.It's been tough keeping it to myself and not making any comment at all, especially when the stories have been leaked, however I had to. Now I know for certain which account / individual it's come from.I have saved and screenshotted all the original stories which clearly show just one person has viewed them.It's ................ Rebekah Vardy's account"

Coleen Rooney and Wayne Rooney
Wayne Rooney and Coleen Rooney depart the Royal Courts of Justice on May 10, 2022 in London. Coleen Rooney, the wife Derby County manager Wayne Rooney, and Rebekah Vardy, wife of Leicester City footballer Jamie Vardy, are locked in a libel battle dubbed by the media as the "Wagatha Christie" trial. The case centers around accusations that Vardy leaked false stories about Rooney's private life to the press. Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images

Why is Vardy suing Rooney?

Vardy has strenuously denied the accusations made against her and is suing Rooney for damages.

At the time, a pregnant Vardy responded with her own post on Instagram, asking: ​​"What would I gain from selling stories on you?"

Her response in full read:

"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? I liked you a lot a Coleen and I'm so upset that you have chosen to do this, especially when I'm heavily pregnant. I'm disgusted that I'm even having to deny this. You should have called me the first time this happened."

Vardy has said that Rooney's allegation is false and defamatory.

Rebekah Vardy
Rebekah Vardy, the wife of England and Leicester City footballer Jamie Vardy, arrives to the High Court in central London for the start of the "Wagatha Christie" libel trial on May 10, 2022. AFP via Getty Images

Why is it called 'Wagatha Christie'?

On social media, Rooney was dubbed "Wagatha Christie" after she detailed how she had posted false stories to her private Instagram account which later appeared in The Sun as part of her so-called "sting operation."

The term "wag" is an acronym for "wives and girlfriends" of footballers and a term widely used by the U.K. tabloids, particularly in the mid-aughts. Critics consider the term to be sexist.

Agatha Christie is of course famous for her detective novels, leading to Rooney and the situation, in general, being now famously and hilariously referred to as "Wagatha Christie."

Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy
Coleen Rooney, wife of Wayne Rooney, and Rebekah Vardy, the wife of Jamie Vardy of England attend the UEFA EURO 2016 Group B match between England v Wales at Stade Bollaert-Delelis on June 16, 2016 in Lens, France. Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

What will happen in the 'Wagatha Christie' trial?

Several preliminary hearings have taken place already and the trial began today in London.

Despite Vardy being the one to bring the case to trial, under English defamation law, the burden of proof is on Rooney.

Rooney must prove that her initial Instagram post accusing Vardy was "substantially true."

Lord Justice Warby previously agreed that Rooney's post directed guilt at Vardy, rather than at her social media account, and that "the element of suspense introduced by the multiple dots seems to me designed to raise expectations of a dramatic revelation."

The high court trial in front of Mrs. Justice Steyn is expected to last one week.

Rooney is represented by barrister David Sherborne who has represented a number of high-profile names in his career including Princess Diana, Meghan Markle and even Johnny Depp during his libel trial against The Sun in 2020.

Meanwhile, Vardy's barrister Hugh Tomlinson has represented the likes of Prince Charles and David and Victoria Beckham.