Wagatha Christie trial latest: Final showdown in case between Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney

·13-min read
Wagatha Christie trial latest: Final showdown in case between Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney

Lawyers for Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy have delivered their final arguments today in the ‘Wagatha Christie’ libel trial.

In his closing speech, Rooney’s barrister David Sherborne argued Vardy’s case had “disintegrated” over the course of the seven-day trial, as he accused her of destroying evidence that would have been even more damning.

Meanwhile, Vardy’s lawyer Hugh Tomlinson said his client had “clearly and consistently denied being the source directly or indirectly”, and argued there had been “no admissions that she leaked or authorised Ms Watt to leak from Mrs Rooney’s private Instagram or that she knew of such leaking.”

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The case centres on claims Rooney correctly exposed Vardy as the source of leaks to The Sun with her bombshell 2019 social media reveal, but Vardy denies it was her and has sued in a bid to "clear my name".

The judge is expected to reserve her final decision on the case to a later date, after hearing today’s legal submissions.

18:17 , Matt Watts

Listen to our Leader podcast for the latest on the Wagatha Christie trial. In this episode of the Leader the Evening Standard’s Courts Correspondent Tristan Kirk talks about how the trial will be long remembered for its drama, and explains the evidence heard. Also, our Features Editor, Phoebe Luckhurst, and Insider Editor Suzannah Ramsdale dissect the juicy bits- of the trial.

Court proceedings have ended for today

17:17 , Elly Blake

Both lawyers have said their closing arguments, with the judge, Mrs Justice Steyn, then telling the court that she would reserve her judgment to a later date.

That’s the end of our live coverage for today.

Vardy’s lawyer says idea his client selectively deleted messages is an ‘incredibly theory’

16:54 , Elly Blake

Hugh Tomlinson QC described the arguments that Mrs Vardy had a “conspiracy to delete” messages or had deleted some in a selective way as an “incredible theory”.

“There was an export of a very large number of Whatsapp messages,” he told the court.

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

“If she was a wicked litigant who was trying to deceive the court by getting rid of damaging evidence, the idea she would do it by getting rid of images and not text …. simply beggars belief.”

Trial having ‘negative impact’ on Mrs Vardy, says her representative

16:53 , Elly Blake

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

He highlighted the “negative impact” the case had had on Mrs Vardy, adding: “The media is full of jokes about this case.”

“This is a case about Mrs Vardy and the way that she has been treated by thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of people on social media. She has been subjected to abuse that goes on to this day,” Mr Tomlinson said.

He added that Mrs Vardy had continued to receive abusive messages during the trial at the High Court.

“This is about her trying to do something about that so she can move on with her life,” Mr Tomlinson said.

Hugh Tomlinson: Mrs Vardy has made mistakes. Perhaps the most serious of these may have been to trust her agent

14:52 , Elly Blake

Hugh Tomlinson QC said: “People have different views, people behave in different ways. Mrs Rooney thought Mrs Vardy was suspiciously friendly, but people behave in different ways.”

Later, discussing The Sun newspaper and Mrs Rooney, the barrister said it was “a newspaper that she clearly loathes” and that Mrs Rooney may disapprove of the way Mrs Vardy had sometimes been featured in it.

“One can see why Mrs Rooney thinks that but it is not a basis for making an allegation of the kind that was made,” Mr Tomlinson said.

Mr Tomlinson added: “Mrs Vardy has made mistakes. Perhaps the most serious of these may have been to trust Ms Watt as her agent.”

Vardy’s barrister: She accepts possibility Caroline Watt may have been source of leaks

14:44 , Elly Blake

Mrs Vardy’s barrister Hugh Tomlinson QC said that his client now accepts the possibility that her friend and former agent Caroline Watt may have been the source of the leaks.

He told the court: “She does not want to be in the position of accusing her friend and former long-time agent of doing something wrong.”

The barrister continued: “Throughout this case, she (Mrs Vardy) has sought to find out the position. The very first thing she said to Mrs Rooney was ‘send me the evidence, send me the posts’.”

Mr Tomlinson added: “The suggestion that she is trying to hide something is quite wrong.”

Vardy’s lawyer: My client ‘doesn’t know what happened'

14:33 , Elly Blake

Hugh Tomlinson QC, representing Rebekah Vardy, said her libel dispute with Coleen Rooney was a “very simple case” when “one clears away the conspiracy theories”.

“Has Mrs Rooney proved that Mrs Vardy leaked the information from her post that she’s accused of leaking?” Mr Tomlinson said.

He added: “Mrs Vardy’s case is and always has been that she did not leak the information nor did she authorise anyone else to leak.”

“She does not know to this day what happened,” Mr Tomlinson said, adding: “She does not know where this information came from.”

He said that Mrs Vardy accepts that it is “possible” that her former agent Caroline Watt was “the source” of the leaks.

“She doesn’t want to be in the position of accusing her friend and former long-term agent of doing something wrong,” he added.

“She sees, as everybody does, the indications that point that way. Her fundamental position is she doesn’t know what happened.”

Court breaks for lunch

13:04 , Elly Blake

David Sherborne has concluded his closing remarks - the court has now broken for lunch.

When it resumes, Hugh Tomlinson QC will deliver his closing speech on behalf of Rebekah Vardy.

Rooney’s lawyer: Vardy’s explanation of car crash story ‘improbable’ as she said she didn’t ‘really watch television’

13:01 , Elly Blake

The court previously heard that Coleen Rooney had posted a public tweet saying it was “sad” someone who followed her was “betraying” her after an article about her car being damaged appeared in The Sun.

While purportedly discussing this tweet in a private WhatsApp conversation, Caroline Watt told Rebekah Vardy “It wasn’t someone she trusted. It was me”, in a message accompanied by a laughing face emoji.

Addressing this in his closing speech on Thursday, David Sherborne said: “Mrs Vardy’s suggestion that she was unaware of Ms Watt leaking information from Mrs Rooney’s Instagram account is completely unsustainable in the face of Ms Watt’s message ‘it was me’.”

Mrs Vardy previously told the court she did not respond to this message because she was bathing her children and then discussed Gemma Collins “face-planting” on Dancing On Ice.

Mr Sherborne said: “Improbable enough we say, but particularly so (given) that the answer to her earlier answer in my cross-examination was that she didn’t really watch television.”

David Sherborne moves to National Television Awards in 2019

12:58 , Elly Blake

David Sherborne turned to an exchange of messages between Rebekah Vardy and Caroline Watt in January 2019 where the agent asks her about Coleen Rooney allegedly being in a car crash.

The barrister claimed that Mrs Vardy had previously been “socialising” with showbiz journalists at The Sun at the National Television Awards where she talked about that alleged incident in the hearing of Ms Watt and a journalist who later wrote a story about Mrs Rooney being in a crash.

Mrs Vardy has claimed that the information was “already well known”, Mr Sherborne said, adding that this “makes no sense at all”.

“Why would Ms Watt be asking Mrs Vardy about what she had said?” the barrister asked.

He said Mrs Vardy, in the text exchange, had “directed” her agent to Mrs Rooney’s private Instagram.

David Sherborne said the WhatsApp exchange between Rebekah Vardy and Caroline Watt about the alleged car crash showed an alleged feature in the case of “either Ms Watt raising something that Mrs Vardy has told her… or Mrs Vardy tells her about something”.

“Either way together they look at the private Instagram account,” Mr Sherborne alleged.

He highlighted a message in which Mrs Vardy said to her agent: ” …Would love to leak those stories.”

“The use of the word leak comes so easily from Mrs Vardy’s mouth,” he said.

Jamie Vardy criticised by Rooney’s representative

11:41 , Elly Blake

Mr Sherborne launched a broadside at Jamie Vardy for giving a statement to the press after Wayne Rooney had given evidence, but being “unwilling” to testify in the trial itself.

Vardy turned up to court for the first time on Tuesday, when Rooney was describing an alleged conversation they had at Euro 2016 about his wife’s media activities.

Rooney said the conversation was “awkward”, as he had to suggest Rebekah Vardy should “calm down” and stop distracting from the football.

But a representative for Jamie Vardy said in a statement outside court that Rooney was “talking nonsense”.

“Mr Vardy didn’t give evidence in court, not in this courtroom, but he chose to make a press statement outside the court while we were sat here hearing his wife’s case”, said Mr Sherborne.

“He was referring to Mr Rooney’s evidence in court under oath, being tested by his wife’s leading counsel.”

He said it would “not be lost on the court that while perfectly willing to give a press statement when not under oath, he was apparently unwilling to provide one for the purposes of these proceedings, despite the fact he was aware since April 1 that Mr Rooney was going to give that evidence.

“It’s very clear the claimant (Vardy) didn’t want the evidence to be tested in the same way Mr Rooney’s was.”

Rooney’s lawyer accuses Vardy of ‘deliberately deleting incriminating images and messages’

11:33 , Elly Blake

Rooney’s counsel accused Vardy of lying on oath and “targeted deletion and destruction” of key evidence in the libel battle.

“There is only one conclusion the court should reach, that Mrs Vardy deleted the WhatsApp chats and equally importantly she has lied on oath in her witness statement”, said Mr Sherborne.

“If this is what the court concludes, as we say the court is driven to, there is only one reasons to have done it. It was done to cover up incriminating evidence. There’s no other plausible explanation.”

Mr Sherborne said Vardy is accused of “deliberately deleting incriminating images and messages” about Rooney’s fake Instagram posts at the heart of the sting operation to catch who was leaking from her private social feed.

But he said other messages, which allegedly show leaking on other Instagram posts, were not wiped.

He said that was because “she was completely unaware that other posts would be in issue later in the libel action”.

Mr Sherborn accused Vardy of “another targeted deletion” in July 2020, once the legal action was underway, and she admitted during the trial that a laptop – that she said was broken - was destroyed when it was wanted for inspection by Rooney’s experts.

“We say this would have got rid of all the subsequent planning between Mrs Vardy and Ms Watt to cover up their wrongdoing”, he said, accusing her of “serious and deliberate destruction of relevant material for which there can be only one reason”.

The court has heard Ms Watt’s mobile phone was dropped into the North Sea during a boat trip off the coast of Scotland, happening a few days after a court order was made that it should be inspected.

“The story is fishy enough – no pun intended”, said Mr Sherborne, “given how close it was to the date this device was ordered to be served.

“But the fact Mrs Vardy chose not to tell her solicitors for the best part of four months is inexplicable.

“It demonstrates this was far from an accident.”

Rooney’s lawyer: Vardy’s case has ‘disintegrated’ during legal battle

10:54 , Elly Blake

David Sherborne, representing Rooney, argued Vardy’s libel case has “disintegrated” during the course of the legal battle.

“At the outset of the case, Mrs Vardy’s position was clear. She was not a leak”, he said.

But the barrister pointed out her stance, that her agent Caroline Watt was not leaking stories either and journalists would support them, had changed as evidence emerged.

“It is admitted that on occasions Mrs Vardy did secretly pass on information about others”, Mr Sherborne said, pointing out Vardy’s legal team had confirmed this.

“Strikingly Mrs Vardy seemed unwilling to accept this admission in the witness box.”

Referring to an “artificial sliver of a case”, he continued: “As we have seen, that case has shrunk to almost nothing, if not entirely disintegrated.

“Anyone could be forgiven for wondering why on earth this case has been allowed to get this far. As I said, Mrs Rooney didn’t want it to.”

Vardy is in court today, while Rooney and husband Wayne have flown off on a pre-planned holiday, having been assured the trial would have finished yesterday.

“Mrs Rooney didn’t want to go for a trial, she made that clear and nor did her husband”, said Mr Sherborne.

“We say what Mrs Rooney said in her post was true, it’s what she believed at the time after the investigation she described was carried out.

“It’s what she believes even more so now we have got to the end of the case.”

Proceedings have begun

10:47 , Elly Blake

Rebekah Vardy has arrived on Thursday, on her own, contrary to rumours she wasn’t coming at all.

It’s been reported that the Rooneys have gone on holidays. No sign of them yet.

What’s happening today?

10:37 , Elly Blake

Lawyers for Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy are set to deliver their final arguments today in the ‘Wagatha Christie’ libel trial.

Rooney claims she correctly exposed Vardy as a leaker to The Sun newspaper with her bombshell 2019 social media reveal, but Vardy denies it was her and has sued in a bid to "clear my name".

David Sherborne, for Rooney, and Hugh Tomlinson QC, for Vardy, will deliver their closing submissions in the seven day trial, which has been held before Mr Justice Steyn.

The WAG wars escalated on Tuesday when Wayne Rooney gave evidence that he had talked to Jamie Vardy at Euro 2016 about his wife’s behaviour in the media, a claim the Leicester striker then denounced outside court as "nonsense".

The judge is expected to reserve her final decision on the case to a later date, after hearing today’s legal submissions.

Pictured: Rebekah Vardy arrives at court

10:23 , Elly Blake

Rebekah Vardy on Thursday (PA)
Rebekah Vardy on Thursday (PA)

Good morning

10:22 , Elly Blake

The Wagatha Christie libel trial resumes on Thursday, with lawyers representing Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy giving their closing arguments.

The judge is expected to make a judgment at a later date.

We will be bringing you live updates as the proceedings unfold.