‘Wagatha Christie’: Soccer spouses’ libel battle opens in UK

‘Wagatha Christie’: Soccer spouses’ libel battle opens in UK




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LONDON (AP) — A trial involving two soccer spouses, one of whom publicly called out the other for allegedly leaking her private social media posts to a British tabloid newspaper, opened Tuesday in London.

Rebekah Vardy, 40, sued for libel after Coleen Rooney, 36, accused her of sharing the Instagram content with The Sun newspaper in October 2019.

Both women are TV personalities and both are married to famous British footballers — Rooney to former Manchester United and England star Wayne Rooney, Vardy to Leicester City and England striker Jamie Vardy.

Rooney said she purposely posted fake stories on Instagram over several months to find out who was passing her private information to the press. In a social media post that quickly went viral, she said she knew Vardy was responsible because she had confined everyone besides an account belonging to Vardy from seeing her Instagram stories.

The courtroom confrontation has been dubbed the “Wagatha Christie“ trial, a play on the slang term “WAG” – wives and girlfriends of soccer stars – and the name of crime author Agatha Christie – a reference to Rooney’s detective work.

On Tuesday, Vardy’s lawyer, Hugh Tomlinson, denied that his client leaked information from Rooney’s private Instagram. Vardy made “strenuous but unsuccessful attempts” to settle the matter, but Rooney would not remove her accusatory post, he said.

“Mrs. Rooney did not have the ‘irrefutable’ evidence that she claimed to have had: her so-called ‘careful investigation’ was nothing of the sort,“ Tomlinson said in written submissions to the High Court.

“Mrs. Vardy had no choice but to bring this libel action to establish her innocence and vindicate her reputation,” he wrote.

Tomlinson said the argument and later libel case had become the subject of intense press coverage and a source of “entertainment” in the media. But it has caused profound distress for Vardy, who was placed under online abuse, he said.

A crowd of photographers flanked both women as they arrived at London’s Royal Courts of Justice. Vardy and Rooney both are expected to testify during the trial, which is scheduled to last about a week.

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