Why brand experts believe Wagatha Christie trial is an own goal for Rebekah Vardy

The case is one of the most high-profile UK libel trials seen in recent years. Credit: PA
  • By ITV News Multimedia Producer Elisa Menendez

The Wagatha Christie trial has become a "farcical circus" and a "Roman amphitheatre" of PR disasters that Rebekah Vardy has ironically brought upon herself, brand experts have analysed.

The week-long high-profile libel trial between Coleen Rooney and her fellow footballer's wife came to a close in May, with a High Court judge ruling on Friday that Mrs Vardy had lost her claim in the predicted multi-million pound case.

Brand experts see the High Court trial as a "royal balls up" for Mrs Vardy - married to Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy - warning her reputation could be left "irreparable".

They believe Mrs Rooney, 36, however, will come out of the case relatively unscathed and highlighted she has already gone down in pop culture history as the formidable Wagatha Christie character.

Brand expert Nick Ede told ITV News: "She’s [Mrs Vardy] brought this upon herself, she was the one who wanted to do this libel action... and it has spectacularly backfired on her. It seems it’s become a farce for her.

"I can’t imagine any brand or business wanting to do any dealings with her after this trial."

Mrs Vardy with husband, striker Jamie Vardy. Credit: PA

Paul MacKenzie-Cummins, managing director of Clearly PR, said if Mrs Vardy - a social media influencer, reality TV star and columnist - is receiving PR advice, it is "shockingly bad" and is "almost akin with Prince Andrew's Newsnight" interview widely labelled as a "car crash".

"The hype that’s gaining around this - people are intrigued about what is going to happen but it’s almost becoming a farcical circus," he added.

Much of the nation has been hooked on the case since Mrs Rooney's now infamous October 2019 social media post accused Mrs Vardy, or someone with access to her Instagram account, of leaking "false stories" after carrying out a months-long "sting-operation".

Mrs Vardy denies the allegations and has sued Mrs Rooney for damages for libel over the “untrue and unjustified defamatory attack” and detailed the torrent of abuse she has received since the viral social media post.

Mrs Rooney said in court that the social media post had been a 'last resort'. Credit: PA

But Mr Ede said the case has dragged up a series of incidents that paint Mrs Vardy, 40, in a "very bad light" such as her 2004 News of The World interview, in which she ridiculed singer Peter Andre's genitalia.

The court has also heard WhatsApp messages exchanged between Mrs Vardy and her agent, Caroline Watt, in which the pair discuss leaking information to press about several footballers - something Mrs Vardy said she was "just joking" about, and also used "rude" and "four-letter words" about Mrs Rooney.

"As a person, and from a brand point of view, it’s really highly damaging for her and I can’t really see her clawing her way out of this unless she wins on a technicality," Mr Ede said.

"But even then I don’t think people will want to buy into her brand at all."

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"Whatever deal she’s got with brands, they’ll be looking to disassociate themselves," agreed Mr MacKenzie-Cummins.

"With regards to Rebekah Vardy, it’s a right royal balls up. It’s the most disastrous thing going.

"There are more things coming out on a daily basis that are doing more and more damage to her reputation. I’m finding it very difficult to see where she can come back from this because I’m not sure she can."

During the trial, Mrs Vardy and both Mr and Mrs Rooney have made a series of bombshell revelations in the witness stand, while both women emotionally told of the devastating personal impact the case has had on them and their families.

"She [Mrs Vardy] was looking for sympathy and support but what she’s done is antagonised people by showing that lack of real world connection with people, empathy and understanding. People have got bigger problems in the world," said Mr Mackenzie-Cummins.

"Racking up fees in excess of £1 million at a time when many people in this country are struggling to make ends meet due to rising living costs will likely alienate her," he added, suggesting a way for her to regain the public's support would be to drop the case and donate the court fees to a charitable cause.

Both experts agreed there seems to be little public criticism of Mrs Rooney in comparison to Mrs Vardy as details have continued to emerge throughout the trial.

Brand experts believe Mrs Rooney's reputation won't be damaged by the trial - rather, the opposite. Credit: PA

Mr Ede said: "For Coleen, it’s shown something that we’ve always known, that she’s a pretty private person who only pops into the public eye when she kind of wants to... that she has stood her ground, she’s a woman of her principles and she was sick and tired of being exposed.

"I think for her brand, it can only be a positive thing and I think people fell in love with her when she became Wagatha Christie… she’s become a really strong character that people really like."

Mr Mackenzie-Cummins agreed he does not think either of the Rooneys will be negatively impacted by the trial and that Mrs Rooney is coming out of the case in a "nice way", as a "relatively decent, family-focused person, someone who’s very caring and focused on her friends".

Mr Ede believes the saga will continue for a long time, following the ruling on Friday.

He said: "I think we’re going to see the Wagatha Christie documentary with different celebrities playing the two of them and I think it’s going to go down in popular culture history as one of these crazy, pivotal moments."