‘I feared losing my baby after Coleen said I was a grass’: High Court hears series of lurid claims as ‘Wagatha Christie’ libel case finally begins and Rebekah Vardy takes the stand yards from her accuser Coleen Rooney
- Rebekah Vardy said the Wagatha Christie saga caused her a great deal of stress
- She said she developed kidney stones while pregnant and feared for her baby
- She claimed vile trolls sent her messages wishing her and her unborn baby harm
Coleen Rooney glared across a courtroom at Rebekah Vardy yesterday as the £3million ‘Wagatha Christie’ libel trial began with a series of lurid and sensational claims.
Mrs Vardy told how she feared she would lose her unborn baby after her rival Wag accused her of leaking stories.
Meanwhile, Mrs Rooney’s lawyer confronted Mrs Vardy with a newspaper interview in which she gave intimate details of a sexual encounter with pop star Peter Andre and mocked the size of his manhood.
The warring Wags finally came face to face at the High Court in London for a trial in which ‘mudslinging’ threatens to besmirch both their reputations.
Mrs Vardy, who was seven months’ pregnant at the time, said she suffered ‘strange palpitations’ and ‘contraction-type pains’ after Mrs Rooney took to Twitter to publicly accuse her of betraying her trust.
Giving evidence on the first day of the trial, she said she was admitted to hospital three times in the final two months of her pregnancy and was left feeling suicidal and suffering severe anxiety.
Mrs Vardy, 40, who is married to Leicester and former England footballer Jamie Vardy, launched legal action after Mrs Rooney accused her of leaking stories from her private Instagram account to The Sun newspaper.
She said she was labelled a ‘grass’ and was subjected to vile abuse and death threats from trolls who said her baby should be ‘put in an incinerator’.
Rebecaa Vardy is aided by a security guard as she leaves the opening day of her libel case against Coleen Rooney
Wayne and Coleen Rooney outside the High Court in London following the first day of the highly-anticipated Wagatha Christie libel trial against Rebekah Vardy
She likened Mrs Rooney, the wife of former Manchester United and England captain Wayne Rooney, to a ‘school bully’ and said she had effectively turned the other footballers’ wives and girlfriends against her.
Mrs Rooney, 36, glowered at her rival as she denied she was responsible for the leaked stories, saying it was ‘not nice’ to betray other people’s confidences.
During the hearing, Mrs Vardy was confronted with a front page article from the News of the World, headlined ‘Peter’s hung like a small chipolata’, in which she described Mr Andre’s physique and shaven body hair.
Mrs Vardy admitted she had not asked for permission to reveal such personal details, or warned the reality television star that she had done so.
She was asked if she felt it was ‘respectful’ for her to have discussed the intimate details, and said she had been forced to give the interview by an abusive ex-partner, and claimed he was paid for the 2004 article.
She told the High Court: ‘I was forced into a situation by my ex to do the story. It’s something I deeply regret and something that’s very much part of my past. It’s not nice to read.’
Lawyer David Sherborne, for Mrs Rooney, read excerpts from the article, in which it was claimed Mr Andre managed ‘just five minutes of sex with Rebekah’ had ‘the smallest trouser equipment I’ve ever seen’. He asked if she respected other people’s privacy. She replied: ‘Yes, I do.’
Mr Sherborne said: ‘The problem is that you believe you decide when someone’s private information should be leaked or not.’
Mrs Vardy insisted she had been forced into discussing her encounter with Mr Andre, adding: ‘I understand why this being used. To me this is mudslinging and I was also threatened with mudslinging by Mrs Rooney’s team.’
She denied she had discussed leaking a separate story, about another celebrity, over claims the unnamed star had used the computer program Photoshop to appear slimmer in photographs.
Mrs Vardy said she had not intended to leak a story about the Photoshop celebrity, but had wanted to do her own article about body positivity.
Former friends Mrs Vardy and Mrs Rooney are believed to have spent up to £3million on lawyers’ fees to fight the case.
Both arrived clad in designer clothing for the legal showdown, although Mrs Rooney was forced to team her £1,565 Mugler blazer and diamond bracelet with a plastic medical boot after fracturing her foot during a fall in March.
Mrs Vardy opted for a £890 navy dress by British-Canadian designer Edeline Lee, and scraped her dark hair back into a demure bun. She said she felt forced to launch the libel action after Mrs Rooney refused to retract her accusation, and said the 2019 tweet had led to a social media frenzy which had left her fearing for her family’s safety.
The mother-of-five said: ‘It felt like the whole world was caving in on me. I must have been in shock. I remember getting out of the car and I was shaking and thought I was going to be sick.
Emerging from a black London cab, Rebekah arriving outside the steps of the High Court this morning for the start of the Wagatha Christie trial
Coleen was seen wearing a plastic boot on her left leg today after she suffered a fracture following a fall at her home in March
‘I started getting really bad pains in my stomach when we got back to the hotel. They were contraction type pains and I panicked that the baby was in danger… I was so afraid for our baby.’
Mrs Rooney was dubbed ‘Wagatha Christie’ after she revealed she had planted fake stories on her private Instagram account in an attempt to unmask who was leaking stories about her.
In a dramatic series of messages, she said she had blocked other followers until only one Instagram user could still see her posts, adding: ‘It’s… Rebekah Vardy’s account.’
Mrs Vardy said the posts had prompted vile online abuse and death threats, and that fans now chanted ‘Vardy your bird is a grass’ when her husband played.
She said: ‘I experienced severe panic attacks and was petrified of being in public because I felt like people were looking at me and judging me. The thought of walking down the road or taking my children to school was enough to drive me over the edge at one point.
Rebekah Vardy (left) took to the stand and swore on the Bible before being quizzed by Coleen’s barrister David Sherborne (in the whig). Wayne and Coleen Rooney are seen watching on in this artist’s impression
‘In the early days it made me go to a very dark place and I even felt suicidal.’ She said she had immediately contacted Mrs Rooney to deny she was responsible, and to plead with her to retract the claim.
But she described Mrs Rooney as ‘cold and calculated’ and said she had gloated to her close circle of other footballers’ wives about her detective work, and had created a ‘mob mentality’ against her.
Mrs Vardy said: ‘I was not the source of the three articles Coleen accused me of leaking. I believe that Coleen posted her claims so as to cause me maximum damage.
‘I will never forgive the way in which Coleen ruined my last weeks of pregnancy and the suffering she has caused to my children and my family but I hope that this claim will mean that the whole world will know that I did not betray Coleen’s trust.’
Mrs Vardy denied claims that she had conspired with her agent Caroline Watt to leak the stories to The Sun, and said she was ‘shocked and horrified’ by claims that Mrs Watt had used her Instagram log-in to access Mrs Rooney’s private account.
The court has heard WhatsApp messages between the two women in which Mrs Vardy allegedly called Mrs Rooney a ‘nasty bitch’ and said she would ‘love’ to leak stories about her.
Mr Sherborne, for mother-of-four Mrs Rooney, claimed Mrs Vardy had known and effectively approved of her agent’s actions, and likened it to using a hired hitman to carry out a murder.
He said the two women then conspired to ensure that ‘highly relevant and incriminating evidence’ was destroyed or lost in a ‘series of most improbable events’, including the alleged deletion of photographs and screenshots and the apparent loss of Mrs Watt’s phone during a boat trip on the North Sea.
He claimed Mrs Vardy now accepted she had leaked information about other sports stars and celebrities, and questioned why the High Court should devote seven days to deciding if her reputation had been damaged, adding: ‘Why on earth are we here?’ Mrs Rooney is due to give evidence later this week.
Artist impression of Rebekah Vardy giving evidence (L) with Wayne and Coleen Rooney looking on (R) at the Royal Courts of Justice in London. May 10, 2022
Artist impression of Rebekah Vardy (far right) and Wayne and Coleen Rooney (left) at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, May 10, 2022
The trial also heard a series of extraordinary claims about the back-stabbing world of the Wags – wives and girlfriends – of England stars.
Mrs Vardy said their lives were a ‘national obsession’ and described how she inhabited a ‘strange celebrity gossip world’ after her husband joined the national squad.
Mrs Vardy was famously pictured cheering on the England team at the Euros in 2016, alongside Mrs Rooney. It was one of the first times the two women had met, but lawyers for Mrs Rooney said they were not meant to be sat together. As the wife of the England captain, space had been reserved for Mrs Rooney and her entourage, while Mrs Vardy and her friends were due to sit further away.
In her witness statement, Mrs Vardy said she sat behind Mrs Rooney because they were the nearest available seats.
But lawyers for Mrs Rooney said she deliberately claimed the seats to ensure she would appear in photographs with the more famous woman, and claimed it was evidence she was ‘fame-hungry’.
They said Mrs Vardy and her friends had refused to move, telling an FA official: ‘We can sit where we like, f*** off.’
Mrs Vardy denied she had sought the limelight.
She allegedly helped to stage a paparazzi photograph of herself with the other Wags outside a restaurant at the 2018 World Cup in Russia – after they were asked to keep a low profile to prevent being a distraction.
The court heard Mrs Vardy messaged her agent saying: ‘We may have to walk to restaurant from hotel now… so might be a good pic of us walking down.’
Mrs Vardy claimed the other Wags turned on her after Mrs Rooney accused her of leaking information. ‘It felt like there was a school bully pointing at me and all her friends were being directed towards me,’ she said.
‘It felt like mob mentality and that I was being attacked and humiliated from all angles.’
Some Wags made public attacks, she said, accusing her of writing the ‘Secret Wag’ column in The Sun.
In her statement to the court, Mrs Vardy said: ‘I think that Coleen, and her PR advisers, have made me a scapegoat for past ‘leaked’ stories that have been published about her and Wayne and the state of their marriage.
‘I believe that they have, in part, done this as a way of trying to change the narrative in the Press about Coleen being a doormat following her husband’s drink-driving charge and the multiple allegations of cheating.’
She said she had felt sorry for Mrs Rooney ‘because it seemed to me that she was not in a happy marriage’.
Mrs Rooney was said to have enjoyed the publicity generated by her ‘Wagatha Christie’ sleuthing.
Hugh Tomlinson QC, for Mrs Vardy, said she had shared posts which had portrayed her as the crime writer Agatha Christie or her fictional detective Miss Marple.
He said merchandise had celebrated her Instagram ‘sting’. But her ‘careful investigation was flawed from the start’.
Mrs Rooney’s social media post identified Mrs Vardy’s Instagram account, he said, but had failed to take into account that other people had access to the Vardy account.
He told the court: ‘Despite seeing the hostile abuse being directed toward Mrs Vardy as a result of the post and being on notice that it was false, Mrs Rooney did nothing. She continued to publish the post and privately appeared to revel in the news storm she had created.’
The case continues.
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