Key moments of the ‘Wagatha Christie’ libel battle

Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney were in court for more than a week. Credit: PA

The libel battle between footballers’ wives Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney played out over six days at the High Court in London.

After a highly-publicised libel trial in May, a judge ruled on Friday that Mrs Vardy had lost the libel battle she brought against Mrs Rooney.

Here's a look back at the key moments from the trial.

Day One - a 'detective story'

The legal teams representing each of the women set out their cases for Mrs Justice Steyn, the judge hearing the case.

Hugh Tomlinson QC, for Mrs Vardy, told the court she “had no choice” but to bring the libel claim against Coleen Rooney to “establish her innocence and vindicate her reputation.”

Meanwhile David Sherborne, representing Mrs Rooney, told the judge the case is essentially a “detective story” and “like any good detective story, you never find a person standing over the body with a smoking gun.”

Mrs Vardy took her place in the witness box shortly before 4pm and tells the court she “didn’t leak anything to anyone.”

Rebekah Vardy leaving the Royal Courts Of Justice Credit: Victoria Jones/PA

In her witness statement, she said she will “never forgive” Mrs Rooney after she “ruined” the last weeks of her pregnancy by accusing her of leaking private information to the press.

She also described the online abuse she suffered following Mrs Rooney’s ‘reveal’ post and said the impact of the allegation on her and her family has been “traumatic”.

The first day of the trial ended with Mr Sherborne dramatically revealing a News Of The World article in which Mrs Vardy talked about a claimed sexual encounter with singer Peter Andre.

The barrister read the headline to the court, saying: “Peter’s hung like a small chipolata, shaved, slobbery, lasts five minutes.”

Mrs Vardy responds by saying she was “forced into a situation” by her ex-husband.

Day Two - agent messages 'not good'

Mrs Vardy denied a suggestion that it was “standard practice” for her to leak information to The Sun via her agent, Caroline Watt – who withdrew from the case at an earlier stage on mental health grounds.

However, she accepted that some exchanges of messages between her and Ms Watt were “not good.”

Mrs Vardy accepted directing Ms Watt to an Instagram post by Mrs Rooney where she talked about having crashed her Honda car, but said she had no knowledge of the agent “monitoring” Mrs Rooney’s account.

Court artist sketch of Rebekah Vardy giving evidence at the High Court Credit: Elizabeth Cook/PA

The model and television personality branded a suggestion she deliberately moved seats at one of the matches during the Euro 2016 tournament to sit behind Mrs Rooney in order to attract more publicity as “ridiculous.”

Mr Sherborne later held up a photograph used in an exclusive 2016 interview Mrs Vardy gave The Sun, saying: “You think you might recall these rather large images of you naked in a national newspaper.”

Mrs Vardy replied that they were her own pictures and weren’t taken for the purposes of the article.

Mrs Vardy later began to cry as she was asked about some of the abuse her and her family had received, and she also denied having close relationships with any journalists.

Day Three - 'it wasn’t someone she trusted, it was me'

Mrs Vardy denied orchestrating a paparazzi photographer to get a picture of the wives and girlfriends of the England players outside a St Petersburg restaurant during the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

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The court heard further messages between Mrs Vardy and Ms Watt in which they discussed a story about Mrs Rooney’s car being involved in a crash and Sun journalist Andy Halls, whose phone number Mrs Vardy previously denied having but later realised she had messaged him via Instagram.

The 40-year-old again broke down in tears after her barrister complained to the judge about the manner of Mr Sherborne’s questioning, and left the witness box after the judge granted a short break.

A further break was needed a short while later after Mrs Vardy again started crying under cross-examination and put her head in her hands on the desk in front of her.

Mrs Vardy was asked about a message Ms Watt sent to her following a ‘warning’ post Mrs Rooney published in which she said someone she trusted was betraying her by leaking stories.

Coleen and Wayne Rooney leaving the Royal Courts Of Justice Credit: Yui Mok/PA

In the message, Ms Watt said: “And it wasn’t someone she trusted, it was me.”

Asked why she didn’t challenge her agent, Mrs Vardy replied that she was bathing her children and watching Dancing On Ice so later continued gossiping with Ms Watt about Gemma Collins faceplanting on the ice.

Day Four - Mrs Rooney on 'reveal' post

Mrs Vardy appeared emotional several times on her final day appearing in the witness box, during which she was accused of throwing Ms Watt “under the bus.”

The former model told the court the News Of The World article about her sexual encounter with singer Peter Andre is one of her “biggest regrets.”

Mrs Vardy concluded her evidence by claiming she felt “bullied and manipulated” while facing cross-examination.

As Mrs Rooney entered the witness box, she told the judge her viral “reveal” post was sent as a “last resort” after she previously sent out warnings.

Court artist sketch of Coleen Rooney giving evidence as Rebekah Vardy looks on Credit: Elizabeth Cook/PA

The court heard Mrs Rooney was “surprised” by the interest her post triggered, with her adding: “It’s not in my nature to cause abuse or trolling in any way at all.”

Mrs Rooney told the court she was in a “vulnerable situation” following her husband’s arrest for drink-driving in September 2017.

She said in written evidence she was “really hurt” by the leak of information from a later private Instagram post featuring Mr Rooney that she did not want to make public amid difficulties in their marriage.

The mother-of-four added in her written statement that she was glad she “put an end” to Mrs Vardy allegedly leaking other people’s information after her bid to catch the person “betraying” her “red-handed.”

Day Five - Coleen Rooney on 'evil and uncalled for' messages

Returning to the witness box, Mrs Rooney told the High Court she wanted a “totally untrue” story about a so-called gender selection procedure to be published as “evidence” for her sting operation to discover the source of leaked stories.

Mrs Rooney claimed she suspected Mrs Vardy was the source of a story about herself and her husband securing a babysitter, with the court hearing she alleged to a PR that Mrs Vardy was “fame hungry.”

Rebekah and Jamie Vardy outside court Credit: Yui Mok/PA

Messages between Mrs Vardy and her agent about Mrs Rooney were “evil and uncalled for”, the former England captain’s wife told the court.

Former Football Association family liaison officer Harpreet Robertson provided evidence over two guests of Mrs Vardy allegedly being “rude and abusive” to her during a Euro 2016 match.

Mrs Robertson claimed Mrs Vardy’s evidence about why she sat behind Mrs Rooney at the England versus Wales game – that Mrs Rooney and family were in her seats and she took the nearest available to avoid a “fuss” – was “simply untrue.”

Day Six - my wife became a 'different mother and different wife'

Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy attended the trial alongside his wife for the first time and heard evidence from Wayne Rooney over an alleged “awkward” conversation with him about Mrs Vardy at the Euro 2016 tournament.

Mr Rooney claimed in court he was asked by then England manager Roy Hodgson to speak to Mr Vardy about getting his wife to “calm down”, adding in written evidence that the FA considered her media activities were causing “problems and distractions.”

The court heard that impact of the period following his wife’s “reveal” post had been “traumatic” for her and that Mr Rooney had watch her become “a different mother” and “a different wife.”

Coleen Rooney posted three 'fake' stories to test a theory she had. Credit: PA

Experts were also called to give evidence over issues relating to the data from Mrs Vardy’s and Mrs Rooney’s phones, with Matthew Blackband claiming he believed there was a “high probability” that “manual deletion” explained the loss of messages from Mrs Vardy’s device.

Day seven - closing arguments

The High Court heard the closing statements as the high-profile "Wagatha Christie" trial came to an end on Thursday.

Mrs Vardy showed up to the court alone, while Coleen and Wayne Rooney - who have both been present daily throughout the case - did not attend due to a "long-standing travel arrangement".

Half an hour into Mrs Rooney's barrister's closing arguments, Mrs Vardy left the court room with her laptop after being accused of "deliberately" deleting WhatsApp messages with her agent. She returned shortly before the lunch break.

Hugh Tomlinson QC, representing Mrs Vardy, told the court his client has suffered “public abuse and ridicule on a massive scale” as a result of Mrs Rooney’s “Wagatha Christie” social media posts about her and is therefore entitled to “substantial damages”.

David Sherborne, representing Mrs Rooney, said there were “a number of extraordinary features of this case”, adding: “The first is the amount of documents that are not before the court."

Mrs Vardy showed up to the last day of the trial alone. Credit: PA

Mr Sherborne said the trial had not heard evidence from several key people, including Mrs Vardy's husband Jamie, the journalists who wrote The Sun articles in dispute in the case, nor from Mrs Vardy's agent Caroline Watt who he alleged “clearly had repeated contact with these journalists”.

Ms Watt had a “hand-in-glove” relationship with Mrs Vardy, Mr Sherborne claimed, adding: “No Caroline Watt is like Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark”.

He said the court “can and should conclude” that the "substantial" loss of WhatsApp messages between Mrs Vardy and Caroline Watt was “the result of deliberate deletion”.

Mrs Vardy’s evidence is that a “corruption supposedly happened” when she tried to upload the WhatsApp chat file during the data export, said Mr Sherborne, who said this was not possible.

He added: “It was done to cover up incriminating evidence.”

The barrister also discussed the loss of Ms Watt’s mobile phone, which had allegedly been dropped into the North Sea.

Coleen and Wayne Rooney were not present on the final day of the trial. Credit: PA

“This ill-fated trip took place only days after the court had requested her phone to be inspected," he claimed.

"The story, we say, is fishy enough – no pun intended.

“The fact that Mrs Vardy… chose not to tell her solicitors for the lengthy period of four months… demonstrates that this was far from an accident," he argued.

However, Mr Tomlinson, representing Mrs Vardy, argued that Mrs Rooney has “failed to produce any evidence” that Mrs Vardy had “regularly and frequently abused her status as a trusted follower” of her private Instagram account by passing on information from it to The Sun newspaper.

The barrister told the court that Mrs Vardy wanted to be “vindicated” that she was not the person who leaked Mrs Rooney’s private information.

He added that the suggestion Mrs Vardy had a “conspiracy to delete” messages or had deleted some in a selective way was an “incredible theory,” adding: “There was an export of a very large number of Whatsapp messages."

“Why would Mrs Vardy, if she was destroying evidence, do it in that selective and complex way?” Mr Tomlinson asked.

He also argued that Mrs Rooney had made "a remarkable ‘case theory’ based on Mrs Vardy being party to an extraordinarily elaborate, convoluted and cunning conspiracy to mislead the court".

Mrs Vardy has suffered “very serious harm to her reputation” as a result of Mrs Rooney’s post, argued Mr Tomlinson and said she had continued to receive abusive messages during the trial at the High Court.