How £3m Wagatha Christie trial unfolded on dramatic first day

Peter Andre’s ‘chipolata’, foul-mouthed WhatsApp messages and Coleen and Wayne REFUSING to look at Rebekah Vardy until she took the stand: How £3m libel ‘trial of the century’ unfolded on dramatic first day at High Court

  • Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney entered Court 13 at London’s High Court separately for start of their trial
  • They arrived within minutes of each other but did not look at one another for hours until Rebekah took stand
  • Wayne Rooney appeared to rub sleep from his eyes and stared into the middle distance as the day wore on

It’s been dubbed the ‘libel trial of the century’ and the first day of the so-called Wagatha Christie legal battle certainly did not disappoint, featuring foul-mouthed Whatsapp messages and repeated references to Peter Andre’s ‘chipolata’ manhood. 

From the very start of proceedings, the atmosphere across the front bench in the well of Court 13 at the High Court was icy, to say the least.

Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney, once friendly enough to exchange wedding presents and baby gifts, were now oceans further apart than the eight to 10 feet of well-worn green leather which separated them for most of the day.

The women have been at war since October 2019 after Coleen accused Rebekah of leaking ‘false stories’ about her private life, before claiming she had uncovered the culprit after carrying out a social media ‘sting operation’.

Coleen publicly claimed three fake stories she had posted on her personal Instagram which ended up in The Sun had come from Rebekah’s own account, a claim Rebekah vehemently denied – leading her to launch the costly libel action which finally reached trial today. 

They arrived within minutes of each other, firstly Rebekah, accompanied by her solicitor Charlotte Harris, entering by the left-hand door of the court, usually kept for claimants.

Shortly afterwards, Wayne and Coleen Rooney came through the right-hand door, marked ‘defendants’.

Coleen, wearing a surgical boot due to a foot injury, slid into her seat behind the table, just in front of her legal team.

Neither woman looked at the other for the duration of the hours of speeches by their lawyers: Hugh Tomlinson QC for Rebekah and David Sherborne for Coleen.

Rebekah arriving at the High Court today accompanied by two security guards. Her husband, Jamie, was not among the entourage. 

Wayne and Coleen Rooney outside the High Court in London today, which saw the dramatic opening of the so-called Wagatha Christie libel case between them and Rebekah Vardy 

Coleen was seen wearing a plastic boot on her left leg as she arrived to the High Court for the start of the highly-anticipated Wagatha Christie libel trial today, after she suffered a fracture following a fall at her home in March 

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. It was the first time they looked at her since she had entered the court room hours earlier. 

The atmosphere across the front bench in the well of Court 13 at the High Court was icy, to say the least. Pictured: Artist impression of Rebekah Vardy (far right) and Wayne and Coleen Rooney (left) at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, May 10, 2022

At around 3.50pm, Rebekah Vardy finally took to the witness box. Whereas before, she had looked towards the judge, Coleen now turned her star up at Rebekah as she was sworn in, and rarely did her focus shift from the woman now dubbed her ‘enemy’ in the war of the WAGs. (Pictured: Artist impression of Rebekah Vardy giving evidence (L) with Wayne & Coleen Rooney looking on (R) at the Royal Courts of Justice in London. May 10, 2022)

Peter Andre, 49, took to Instagram after Mrs Vardy told London’s High Court that she regretted comparing his private member to a ‘chipolata’ in a kiss-and-tell newspaper interview for the News of the World in 2004

Wayne looked less than transfixed by the legal submissions and appeared to be rubbing sleep from his eyes as he twiddled his thumbs and stared into the middle distance as the day wore on.

Wayne’s apparent level of interest was matched by the virtual absence of a public gallery.

Although billed as the libel trial of the year, all but one person in the court apart from the parties was either a journalist or a lawyer, and the sole elderly gent representing the public, who had dutifully queued to see the proceedings, left at the first morning interval and did not return.

Coleen, looking smart in blue blazer and trousers, her hair tied back, maintained a steady, steely gaze ahead, and never more so when the moment came at 3.50pm for Rebekah to enter the witness box, after sidling right past Wayne and Coleen to get there.

Whereas before, she had looked towards the judge, Coleen now turned her star up at Rebekah as she was sworn in, and rarely did her focus shift from the woman now dubbed her ‘enemy’ in the war of the WAGs.

Occasionally there were lighter moments, particularly when the august, rather stuffy world of the Inns of Court cast its beady eye over the navel-gazing universe of the Instagram generation which is at the heart of the case.

Mr Tomlinson read out a lurid piece from the Sun, penned by the mysterious ‘Secret Wag’. 

‘OMG,’ began the doughty lawyer, before pausing and turning to Lady Justice Steyn, to explain ‘that’s of course Oh, My God,’ my lady,’ he explained.

At one point Mrs Rooney’s lawyer David Sherborne asked Rebekah (whose foul-mouthed texts have been a feature of the case) to explain the abbreviation ‘FFS’ in one message and she glanced nervously at the judge, who indicated it was all right to swear in court when the evidence demanded it – so she said ‘For F**** sake’. (Pictured: Artist impression of Rebekah Vardy giving evidence at the Royal Courts of Justice in London. May 10, 2022)

Coleen, looking smart in blue blazer and trousers, her hair tied back, maintained a steady, steely gaze ahead, and never more so when the moment came at 3.50pm for Rebekah to enter the witness box, after sidling right past Wayne and Coleen to get there. (Pictured: Court sketch of Wayne Rooney and Coleen, far left, and Rebekah Vardy far right, sitting near to each other in the front row at court prior to Vardy giving evidence)

By Bridie Pearson-Jones for MailOnline  

They’re usually spotted in glamourous attire on foreign holidays and in swanky nightclubs.

But Coleen and Rebekah swapped cocktail dresses and bikinis for a smart business style today as they arrived at London High Court to battle out the ‘Wagatha Christie’ case.

Coleen, 36, opted for a stylish black suit with a £1,565 Mugler blazer and navy T-shirt, which she paired with a £615 Gucci loafer.

Rebekah, 40, opted for full Duchess style in a trendy midi shirt dress from British-Canadian designer Edeline Lee, who marks Kate Middleton among her fans. 

Turning up for the first day of proceedings, Coleen wore her brown hair down while tying part of it back and opting for a natural make-up look with a light layer of foundation and lick of mascara.

She added small golden hoops to the look which otherwise had minimal jewellery.

The mother-of-four, who was wearing a medical boot on her left leg for an injury paired the look with one velvet Gucci loafer from the Italian fashion house’s SS22 collection which costs £615.

Coleen clutched two leather handbags as she walked into court and rolled up her blazer sleeves exposing a diamond bracelet. 

He continued from the article: ‘HOW could she!!?? Coleen Rooney has created the biggest WAG fallout since Nicola McLean whipped off her 32FF superbra.’

Chuckles broke out in court, and even Rebekah and her lawyer joined in, but there certainly wasn’t much of a smile on Coleen’s face.

The first few questions in cross-examination from leading celebrity lawyer Mr Sherborne, nicknamed ‘Orange Sherbert’ in legal circles for his perma-tan, were relatively gentle, but clearly he was only warming up.

At one point Mr Sherborne asked Rebekah (whose foul-mouthed texts have been a feature of the case) to explain the abbreviation ‘FFS’ in one message and she glanced nervously at the judge, who indicated it was all right to swear in court when the evidence demanded it – so she said ‘For F**** sake’.

Perhaps one indication of what lies ahead in the days ahead from Coleen’s team was betrayed by the box files arrayed before Mr Sherborne. 

All bore large labels in marker pen stating their contents. One simply read: ‘Vardy: Lies.’

Towards the end of the day, Mr Sherborne said: ‘Whilst it is true that Mrs Vardy did leak a number of people’s information in her circle, Mrs Rooney was not one of them, she says.

‘I do wonder whether it’s not just Mrs Rooney or the whole court who now think: Why on earth are we even here?’ 

It comes after media lawyer Jonathan Coad said today that whoever wins, they are unlikely to see much in the way of compensation due to their respective legal costs. 

‘It’s a determination to be right. It’s human nature,’ he told the BBC. 

‘Once someone’s taken a stand and said, ‘I’m right, you’re wrong,’ in a very public way – to a six-figure Twitter following – it’s a very big climb down to say, ‘I was wrong’.’

He said he expects each side to have spent upwards of £1million on legal fees, with the winner only set to recover around 70 per cent of these. 

He said this would leave them with at least £300,000 still to pay, while damages, if ordered, will likely range from £15,000 to £40,000. 

He added: ‘It makes no sense for either of them…even the winner is going to come out with a massive loss.’

Meanwhile, branding expert Chris Hunte, who runs the Addition agency, said both women could lose out on hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of brand deals. 

He added: ‘Brands go into partnerships with celebrities to build consumer loyalty, ultimately increase sales and have a positive PR around associating with that person… For both these ladies, the impact is huge, especially in the short run here. They could be losing hundreds of thousands of pounds alone, just from being involved in his case.’

But the battle is clearly not about money for Vardy and Rooney, whose designer outfits certainly contrasted with the gowns and wigs of the eminent barristers representing them.

Coleen opted for a stylish black suit with a £1,565 Mugler blazer and navy T-shirt, which she paired with a £615 Gucci loafer.

Rebekah meanwhile donned a full Duchess style in a trendy midi shirt dress from British-Canadian designer Edeline Lee, who marks Kate Middleton among her fans. 

While there as a veneer of glamour to proceedings, the hearing certainly had its darker moments, particularly when Rebekah detailed the traumatic effect the ‘WAGatha post’ had on the last two months of her pregnancy, and the vile trolling she received on social media.

She also told how she stopped going to watch her husband play due to the chants and jeers she and her family would receive from the crowds, and how the stress induced from the saga had her fearing for her unborn baby’s life.

Rebekah also said she suffering from suicidal thoughts following the fallout of Coleen’s post. 

But for those who remember the News of the World, there were lighter moments too – with the possible exception of singer Peter Andre.

One involved a trip down memory lane to the lurid kiss and tell which a much younger Rebekah participated in, back in 2004 about Mr Andre, who was then fresh from the ‘I’m a Celebrity’ jungle.

Rebekah – the wife of Leicester City strike Jamie Vardy – is photographed as she arrived in court today 

Rebekah walks through a crowd of photographers towards the entrance of the Royal Courts of Justice on the Strand 

Coleen glances to one side as she walks into the entrance of the High Court carrying two handbags and wearing a plastic boot 

The well-varnished Mr Sherborne insisted on reading lengthy passages from the story while Rebekah looked less than comfortable in the witness box, having told him she respected other people’s privacy. 

Rebekah had repeatedly denied leaking information to newspapers in the first few minutes of her cross-examination by Mrs Rooney’s barrister.

Mr Sherborne then said: ‘You wouldn’t want to be called a leaker, would you?’

Rebekah replied: ‘I have been called a leaker and it’s not nice.’

The barrister later asked if Rebekah respected people’s privacy, to which she replied: ‘Yes, I do.’

He then asked her questions about an interview she gave to the News Of The World about Mrs Vardy’s claimed sexual encounter with singer Peter Andre.

Mr Sherborne showed what appeared to an A3 print out of the article to Rebekah in the witness box before reading the headline: ‘Peter’s hung like a small chipolata, shaved, slobbery, lasts five minutes’.

The barrister read excerpts from the article, in which it was claimed Mr Andre had managed ‘just five minutes of sex with Rebekah’ and in which she said he had ‘the smallest trouser equipment I’ve ever seen’ that was like a ‘miniature chipolata’. 

Mr Sherborne suggested to Rebekah that the News Of The World was the ‘highest circulating newspaper at the time’, read by some four million people, and asked her whether it was ‘respectful’ of Peter Andre’s ‘right not to share this information’. 

She replied: ‘I was forced into a situation by my ex-husband to do this. It is something that I deeply regret… It is not nice to read and I understand why this is being used and to me this is mudslinging and I was also threatened with mudslinging by Mrs Rooney’s team.’

Asked the question again by Coleen Rooney’s barrister David Sherborne, Mrs Vardy said: ‘The circumstances around it were completely different.’

She later said she did not ask Mr Andre for his permission or tell him it was going to happen in advance.

Mr Sherborne asked: ‘Did you feel particularly strongly about the size of his manhood that it should be made public?’

Mrs Vardy, 49, (pictured leaving court) said she had been ‘forced’ to take part in the News Of The World article by her ex-husband

Mrs Vardy replied: ‘It was something that I was forced to say.’  

Mr Andre has since spoken out, saying he glad that Rebekah finally admitted it ‘wasn’t true’ and that she was allegedly co-erced into making the comments. 

He added: ‘But the way I look at it, most people saw in the jungle how an acorn turned into an oak so I think I’m ok.’

Rebekah told how she was on holiday in Dubai on October 9, 2019 when she saw Coleen’s post accusing her of leaking stories from a private Instagram. 

Rebekah, who was seven months pregnant at the time, said she was ‘genuinely scared that I might lose my baby’ due to the stress of the situation in the days and weeks following the post. 

In a written statement, she said: ‘I felt extremely paranoid and like everyone in the beach club was looking at me. I thought I was going to pass out and Jamie decided we needed to leave straight away.

‘I do not fully remember the journey back to the hotel because I was almost hyperventilating. I knew that I had not done anything wrong. 

‘I had not leaked those stories and I did not even know what posts I was supposed to have leaked.’

She continued: ‘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 made myself calm down and tried to think clearly. The first thing I did was ring my eldest daughter’s school.’

‘She was 13 years old then and children that age can be really cruel to each other. I needed to make the school aware of the situation so that they could try to protect her from bullying by the other children.’

‘All I cared about at that point was protecting my children. I knew that there must have been a mistake.’   

She added: ‘I could not believe that Coleen had not called me before posting this accusation to the world.’

Wagatha Christie timeline: How Coleen and Rebekah’s long-running, vicious war unfolded before the eyes of the world 

September 2017 to October 2019 – The Sun runs a number of articles about Coleen, including that she travelled to Mexico to look into baby ‘gender selection’ treatment, her plan to revive her TV career and the flooding of her basement.

October 9, 2019 – Coleen uses social media to accuse Rebekah of selling stories from her private Instagram account to the tabloids.

Coleen says she spent five months attempting to work out who was sharing information about her and her family based on posts she had made on her personal social media page.

After sharing a series of ‘false’ stories and using a process of elimination, Coleen claims they were viewed by one Instagram account, belonging to Rebekah.

Rebekah, then pregnant with her fifth child, denies the allegations and says various people had access to her Instagram over the years.

She claims to be ‘so upset’ by Coleen’s accusation, later adding: ‘I thought she was my friend but she completely annihilated me.’

The public dispute makes headlines around the world, with the hashtag #WagathaChristie trending.

How it all began: On October 9, 2019, Coleen Rooney, now 36, accused Rebekah Vardy, 40, of leaking ‘false stories’ about her to the press in an Instagram post (above) 

Shortly after Coleen’s public accusation, Rebekah – who was pregnant and on holiday in Dubai at the time – denied any involvement (above) 

February 13, 2020 – In a tearful appearance on ITV’s Loose Women, Rebekah says the stress of the dispute caused her to have severe anxiety attacks and she ‘ended up in hospital three times’. Coleen says in a statement that she does not want to ‘engage in further public debate’.

June 23, 2020 – It emerges that Rebekah has launched libel proceedings against Coleen.

Rebekah’s lawyers allege she ‘suffered extreme distress, hurt, anxiety and embarrassment as a result of the publication of the post and the events which followed’.

November 19-20, 2020 – The libel battle has its first High Court hearing in London. A judge rules that Coleen’s October 2019 post ‘clearly identified’ Rebekah as being ‘guilty of the serious and consistent breach of trust’.

Mr Justice Warby concludes that the ‘natural and ordinary’ meaning of the posts was that Rebekah had ‘regularly and frequently abused her status as a trusted follower of Coleen’s personal Instagram account by secretly informing The Sun of Coleen’s private posts and stories’.

February 8-9, 2022 – A series of explosive messages between Rebekah and her agent Caroline Watt – which Coleen’s lawyers allege were about her – are revealed at a preliminary court hearing.

The court is told Rebekah was not referring to Coleen when she called someone a ‘nasty bitch’ in one exchange with Ms Watt.

Coleen’s lawyers seek further information from the WhatsApp messages, but the court is told that Ms Watt’s phone fell into the North Sea after a boat she was on hit a wave, before further information could be extracted from it.

February 14 – Coleen is refused permission to bring a High Court claim against Ms Watt for misuse of private information to be heard alongside the libel battle. A High Court judge, Mrs Justice Steyn, says the bid was brought too late and previous opportunities to make the claim had not been taken.

April 13 – Ms Watt is not fit to give oral evidence at the upcoming libel trial, the High Court is told as the case returns for another hearing.

The agent revokes permission for her witness statement to be used, and withdraws her waiver which would have allowed Sun journalists to say whether she was a source of the allegedly leaked stories.

April 29 – Rebekah ‘appears to accept’ that her agent was the source of allegedly leaked stories, Coleen’s barrister David Sherborne tells the High Court. He argues that a new witness statement submitted by Rebekah suggests Ms Watt was the source but Rebekah claims she ‘did not authorise or condone her’.

Rebekah’s lawyer Hugh Tomlinson says the statement did not contain ‘any change whatever in the pleaded case’, with her legal team having no communication with Ms Watt.

Rebekah said the saga had ‘changed me as a person’, saying she now finds it ‘really difficult to trust people’ and the she is ‘not as confident’ as she used to be. 

She told how her recent appearance on ITV’s Dancing on Ice was ‘the first thing I have done in public since these allegations.’

She said: ‘I have suffered from severe anxiety to the point where, in the weeks following the post, I did not want to go out anywhere. 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.

‘In the early days it made me go to a very dark place and I even felt suicidal.

‘In the last two months of my pregnancy following the allegation and before my youngest daughter’s birth I was admitted to hospital on three occasions.

‘I was diagnosed with stress induced kidney stones. The maternity team were extremely concerned about the level of stress I was under and advised that there was a risk that I would go into an early labour.’

Rebekah said she lost work as a result of the allegations and told how she still gets ‘extremely stressed’.

She said: ‘I am fiercely protective of my children and my family and would do anything to shelter them from any form of abuse but sometimes that is impossible.

‘It makes me feel incredibly guilty that I am in this situation because it is continuously brought up for them.

‘My older children are at the age where they are reading about it in the press and I cannot shield them from it. They have been bullied at school to the point where they have been scared to go in.’

Hitting out at her court rival she added: ‘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.

‘There have been large numbers of these stories which I assume have come from their own close circle.

‘Rather than dealing with this they have attacked me. 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.’

Rebekah said Coleen’s messages in the hours after her post showed ‘the same cold, proud tone.’

She continued in her statement: ‘Her messages were sarcastic and were totally indifferent to the enormity of what she had just done to me and my family.

‘She seemed completely unbothered about the fact of the abuse we were suffering saying only that she had done what she needed to do.

‘I denied that I had ever leaked the stories about her but she did not engage with me. When I said that she could have had the decency to call me before making the allegation publicly she said that she had not rung because no one rang her to tell her all the posts were going in the paper.

‘She denied that she accused me of selling stories in the post but said that she had only accused my account.

‘I thought that this denial was totally disingenuous because there was no doubt that the allegation she had published to the world that morning accused me of leaking the stories.

‘Coleen told me that she completely stood by what she had done and that it was worth it to her to find out where it had come from.’

Speaking of the impact of Coleen’s response in the aftermath of her devastating post, Rebekah said: ‘To receive these messages when I knew that Coleen was completely wrong in her accusation that I had leaked stories about her was totally infuriating and very distressing.

‘It felt like a bad dream. I still find it very chilling looking back at these messages. I genuinely think that she did not care at all about the consequences for me and my family and that she was somehow enjoying all the praise and attention that she was getting as a result of her so-called ‘sting operation’.

‘I feel like it was a ploy by her to turn the press and public against me to generate sympathy for herself.

‘It was absolutely absurd. Everyone seemed to simply accept that she had caught me red handed, that she had concrete evidence, and that there was no doubt about me being the culprit.

‘There were hundreds of articles about how clever she was, how disgusting I was and how much everyone was enjoying the fall out.’

Rebekah told how the story ‘was quickly spiralling out of control with the false accusation being repeated at speed’.

She said: ‘I realised that I needed to get on top of it quickly. I was in far too much shock to think clearly so Caroline helped me prepare a response to Coleen and I asked her to post it onto my Instagram account.

‘The response denied that I had ever leaked stories about Coleen and said that she should not have handled it in this way. The WhatsApp messages between Caroline and me in the minutes and hours after the post show that I was traumatised as the media coverage went worldwide and torrents of abuse came flooding in.

‘I was in a state of panic and disbelief. My initial reaction and belief was that it was possible my account had been compromised in some way. ‘

Rebekah said her agent Caroline had suggested to her to say that she had allowed a company and a former social media agency to access her Instagram account but she did not ‘take her up’ on it.

Rebekah added: ‘This was not true but in the heat of the moment I think that Caroline was just seeking to come up with a potential explanation, given that I was not responsible and needed to communicate this to the millions of people that had now read Coleen’s damning accusation.

‘Caroline wanted to try and stop this from gaining any more momentum and becoming uncontrollable and she could see this was sending me into a spiral of despair.

‘She was messaging me in the middle of a complete crisis. I thought that Caroline was thinking like a PR and trying to mitigate the immediate damage being caused in the aftermath of the post.’

After taking legal advice Rebekah said Coleen ‘refused to provide me with even the most basic details to substantiate it’.

Coleen’s representatives did not reply to letters from her solicitors.

She said: ‘This went on for months. It was exhausting and humiliating. I felt like I had been completely set up. The allegation Coleen made about me was so personal and caused so much abuse and hatred towards me.

‘The coverage was worldwide and months and even years later it has continued to gather momentum.

‘For Coleen to refuse to sen me even the most basic details of her so-called investigation was outrageous.

‘Attempts to settle the case failed. I did not want to have to issue proceedings but I needed to clear my name and I realised that the only way to prove Coleen’s accusation in the post was wrong was by issuing proceedings against her. I did this on June 12 2020. ‘

The court previously heard that Rebekah’s agent and friend Caroline Watt’s phone fell into the sea after a boat she was on hit a wave before further information could be extracted from it in August 2021.  

Today, Mr Tomlinson said Rebekah ‘has no personal knowledge’ of the incident and ‘all she knows is what has been said by Ms Watt’.

‘It has not been suggested that Mrs Vardy had any involvement with this and it cannot possibly be relied on as evidence of wrongdoing by Mrs Vardy,’ he said. 

The court heard from Mr Tomlinson that Ms Watt had recently withdrawn a witness statement from the trial in which she said she had not leaked stories.

Ms Watt also withdrew a waiver that might have allowed Sun journalists to say whether or not she was the source.

Mr Tomlinson said until these developments ‘Mrs Vardy believed that Ms Watt wasn’t the source of the leaks’.

‘She trusted her friend, that was Ms Watt’s own evidence,’ he said.

‘The result of all these developments is that Mrs Vardy doesn’t know what to think. She accepts that it’s possible that it may be that Ms Watt was the source of some or all of the stories.’

Mr Tomlinson added: ‘As Mrs Vardy’s PR, Ms Watt had access to her Instagram account.’ 

Mr Tomlinson said that if Ms Watt was the source of leaked stories ‘that’s not something that Mrs Vardy knew anything about and it’s certainly something that she did not approve of or authorise Ms Watt to do’.

He added that the developments around the agent ‘makes no change at all’ in Mrs Vardy’s pleaded case.

‘Her case is and always has been that she did not leak Mrs Rooney’s information from her private Instagram to the Sun, whether directly or using the agency of a third party’.

Mr Tomlinson added of Rebekah: ‘She’s not able to say of her friend, she was the leaker. She doesn’t know.’ 

The trial continues.  

Who’s who in the case? Former friends who had a bitter falling out, the former Virgin Atlantic air hostess, and the celebrity lawyers going head to head  

 Rebekah Vardy with her agent, Caroline Watt, who had been due to give evidence in the trial but was recently found to be ‘not fit’ to take part, also withdrawing her written evidence

Rebekah Vardy

The footballer’s wife bringing the claim, Rebekah’s family was thrust into the limelight after her husband Jamie helped Leicester City on their way to an unlikely Premier League win in 2016.

The model and TV personality, 40, appeared on I’m A Celebrity in 2017 before later appearing on Dancing On Ice in 2021, as well as making appearances on Loose Women.

The mother-of-five recently wrote a children’s book with her husband Jamie, entitled Cedric The Little Sloth With A Big Dream, which follows a little sloth who hopes to become a footballer. 

Coleen Rooney

Coleen, the footballer’s wife defending the claim, is perhaps now better known as ‘Wagatha Christie’ after her social media posts at the heart of the libel trial went viral.

The 36-year-old has had a varied career including TV presenting, writing, as well as fronting an exercise DVD.

Coleen met her husband when she was 12, as the couple went to the same school in Liverpool.

They began dating when they both turned 16 and have four sons together – Kai Wayne, Klay Anthony, Kit Joseph and Cass Mac.

Caroline Watt

Mrs Vardy’s friend and agent, Ms Watt has featured in some of the preliminary hearings, despite not being a party to the claim or giving evidence at the trial.

She is a former Virgin Atlantic air hostess who has been Rebekah’s agent for the past seven years, helping to build her profile in the national media.

Reports that she no longer represents her following the current controversy engulfing the two have been dismissed as inaccurate with Ms Watt remaining close to Ms Vardy both professionally and personally.

Ms Watt, 39, is married to former footballer Steve Watt, who played briefly for Chelsea, making one Premier League appearance for two minutes in 2005 and Swansea City. He is currently manager of Kent non-league side Hythe Town and they have two children.

After leaving the airline industry, Ms Watt began working as an agent in the world of entertainment, quickly developing a reputation for her communication skills and ability to network.

She was formerly employed by talent agency The Frontrow Partnership but left in 2019 to go it alone and took her main client and close friend, Ms Vardy with her.

Ms Watt has been credited with building Ms Vardy’s public profile by ensuring that she regularly featured in the national media and also brokered the deal for her to appear on the hit reality TV show I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! in 2018.

Ms Watt started representing the high-profile WAG in 2015, when her husband, Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy shot to fame.

She is a regular visitor to the Vardy’s Lincolnshire home and also socialises with Ms Vardy, attending glitzy parties and bars.

Her other clients include the former Page 3 girl Nicola McLean but it is Ms Vardy that has been the biggest asset in her career as an agent. 

Hugh Tomlinson QC (left), who is representing Ms Vardy, is a top-flight privacy silk who has launched a number of battles with the Press in a wide-spanning career. David Sherborne (right), 53, is acting for Mrs Rooney

Hugh Tomlinson QC

An experienced media barrister, Mr Tomlinson is at the front of Mrs Vardy’s legal team in the libel case.

Called to the bar in 1983, his previous clients include the Prince of Wales in his legal battle against the Mail on Sunday over his diaries, easyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou and oligarch Roman Abramovich.

Mr Tomlinson, who became a QC in 2002, is a board member of campaign group Hacked Off.

David Sherborne

Mr Sherborne also has a reputation as the barrister the rich and famous turn to for legal assistance – his previous client list includes Diana, Princess of Wales, Hollywood actor Michael Douglas and former prime minister Tony Blair and his wife Cherie.

Mrs Rooney’s barrister is no stranger to high-profile libel trials at the Royal Courts of Justice, notably representing Johnny Depp in the actor’s 2020 libel claim against the publisher of the Sun, News Group Newspapers (NGN).

The barrister, called to the bar in 1992, has also represented dozens of claimants, including celebrities, suing NGN over phone hacking at the News Of The World.

Mrs Justice Steyn

The High Court judge overseeing the case, Mrs Justice Steyn (pictured right) was appointed in 2019 and sits in the Queen’s Bench Division – the part of the High Court which deals with defamation, personal injury and breach of contract claims.

As well as overseeing the ‘Wagatha Christie’ claim, other prominent cases she has heard include Arron Banks’ libel claim against journalist Carole Cadwalladr and the FDA union’s unsuccessful legal challenge over Boris Johnson’s decision to support Priti Patel following bullying accusations.

The daughter of former Law Lord Lord Steyn, Mrs Justice Steyn covered a variety of cases as a barrister, including a case over the expansion of Heathrow airport.  

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