Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy have today discovered who has won the £3million Wagatha Christie libel trial – but who has supported the WAGs throughout the explosive case?
Mrs Vardy, 40, sensationally lost the trial with Mrs Rooney, 36, after relentlessly pursuing the case against her WAG rival for nearly three years after being accused of leaking private stories about Coleen and her family to The Sun newspaper.
For a week in May, the case captivated millions who were left open-mouthed by the evidence including explosive and expletive-filled WhatsApp messages sent by Ms Vardy as well as Coleen’s evidence about leaking false stories about her private life to find who was giving them to the tabloids and how her marriage almost fell apart after her husband Wayne was caught drink-driving with a party girl.
The bombshell verdict from Court 13 of the High Court was handed down remotely online at noon by Mrs Justice Steyn just over two months after the hearing.
The High Court has found that Mrs Rooney’s social media post accusing her rival was ‘substantially true’ and that Mrs Vardy ‘knew of, condoned and was actively engaged’ in leaks to the media by her ex-agent Caroline Watt.
Coleen was joined each day at the High Court by her husband Wayne, as well as Hollywood’s favourite lawyer David Sherborne.
The WAG has also been publicly supported by TV personality Danielle Lloyd, who claimed she has ‘similar run-ins’ with Mrs Vardy.
But in the Vardy corner was Hacked Off founder Hugh Tomlinson QC – heading up a glamorous legal team, including one who was once named one of the ‘sexiest lawyers’ in the UK, and another who is a crisis manager with experience in online reputation.
Rebekah also appeared alongside a bodyguard throughout the trial and has been defended by fellow WAG Nicola McLean.
Here, FEMAIL reveals who’s who in the Wagatha Christie…
Dr Rosa Malley
In Rebekah’s legal team is Dr Rosa Malley, 37, an Associate in the Dispute Resolution team at top law firm Kingsley Napley.
Rosa was a part of the Hacked Off campaign and specialises in reputation and media matters, according to her online bio.
She previously worked as a paralegal at top city law firm Mishcon de Reya, who led the High Court bid to stop Boris Johnson triggering Brexit.
One of their barristers, Anthony Julius, acted for Princess Diana in her divorce from Prince Charles.
In Rebekah’s legal team is Dr Rosa Malley, 37, an Associate in the Dispute Resolution team at top law firm Kingsley Napley
Rebekah Vardy, wife of Leicester City soccer player Jamie Vardy, leaves the Royal Courts of Justice in London
The firm also represented Heather Mills in her divorce case against Beatles star Paul McCartney, before separating ‘amicably’ from their client.
The company also acted for former Liberal Democrat Cabinet minister Chris Huhne when he faced allegations of perverting the course of justice by ‘swapping’ speeding points with his wife. Mr Huhne was later sentenced to eight months in prison.
Rosa got her PhD studying the Representation of Women in British Politics at University of Bristol in 2011.
She works in pre and post-publication for broadcast media, and has also worked in crisis management with politicians, sportspeople, celebrities and high profile criminal defendants.
Before her legal career, Rosa worked in politics, as a researcher at ThinkTank Institute for Government and as a Special Projects Manager for the Hacked Off campaign. She also taught British Politics at Birkbeck, University of London.
Fittingly for the case in question, Rosa has experience in online reputation and abuse on social media.
Like Rosa, Charlotte Harris, 44, worked at Hacked Off and for eminent law firm Mishcon de Reya and is now a partner at Kingsley Napley.
Described as ‘one of the most sought out privacy lawyers in the land’ she boasts a client base of ‘MPs, celebrities, PR experts, sports agents, sports people’.
In 2013, she married investment banker James Burr, with a very star-studded guest list including Hugh Grant, MP Tom Watson, MP Chris Huhne, and Max Clifford.
Like Rosa, Charlotte Harris (pictured), 44, worked at Hacked Off and for eminent law firm Mishcon de Reya
Rebekah Vardy, wife of Leicester City soccer player Jamie Vardy arrives at the Royal Courts of Justice in London with her legal team
At the wedding, millionaire former Energy Secretary Chris Huhne enjoyed his last night of liberty before he was sentenced the next day at Southwark crown court to eight months’ imprisonment.
Writing in the Diary column for the New Stateman at the time, Mr Watson said he ‘entertained’ the gathering of celebrities, MPs, bankers and highly remunerated senior Mishcon staff with a karaoke rendition of the new wave anthem Teenage Kicks.
Clearly beauty and brains, she was named one of the country’s sexiest lawyers in 2015 in a list put together by the website Legal Cheek.
Charlotte has appeared before Parliamentary Select Committees throughout her career, including the Leveson Inquiry and was described as a ‘force of nature and always ready for a fight’ by Chambers and Partners High Net Worth Guide in 2020.
Hugh Tomlinson QC
Hugh Tomlinson QC, who represented Ms Vardy in the trial, is a top-flight privacy silk who has launched dozen of battles with the press in his four decade career.
The Leeds-born, Oxford-educated lawyer last year advocated successfully in a claim against a journalist and author after she made false allegations that Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea FC on Vladimir Putin’s orders.
He was one of several lawyers representing Russian oligarchs whose ethics were questioned in parliament by the Conservative MP Bob Seely following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Hugh Tomlinson QC is a top-flight privacy silk who has launched dozen of battles with the press in his four decade career
He also successfully represented Prince Charles as the royal sought to stop the publishing of his Hong Kong travel diaries, saying public interest justifications were ‘far-fetched’.
And in an earlier case, he won substantial damages for Christopher Jefferies after press coverage incorrectly associated him with the murder of his tenant Joanna Yeates in 2010.
A year later he co-founded Hacked Off, the group campaigning for tighter media regulation, which he now chairs, and which has backers such as Hugh Grant and Steve Coogan.
Tomlinson was born in Woodhouse in Leeds where he went to Leeds Grammar School and then Balliol College, Oxford, leaving with the top first in PPE.
He then took up philosophical studies at Sussex University before going to the University of Paris in 1977. In 2000 he was a founding member of Matrix Chambers in London.
Who else is supporting Rebekah?
Rebekah went into court each day accompanied by a burly security guard – whereas Coleen didn’t appear to have any bodyguard alongside her.
She’s previously discussed how security is important to her and added that she’s faced threats since her feud with Coleen went public.
She told OK! magazine ahead of the 2018 World Cup that she and her family were bringing their own security to the games.
Rebekah went into court each day accompanied by a burly security guard
Fellow WAG Nicola McLean has seemingly thrown her support behind Mrs Vardy several times – once stating that Mrs Rooney is ‘not as private’ as she is considered while also insisting Mrs Vardy is not interested in the fame game.
Nicola is married to Tom Williams, who now plays for Hashtag United of the Essex Senior League. Tom is a defender and midfielder and made nearly 300 appearances in the Football League playing for numerous clubs, including QPR and West Ham.
The I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here star, who has been married to Tom since 2009, told Closer Magazine in 2020: ‘I’ve had different experiences at different clubs but the WAG world can be a b****y mean girls like existence…
Rebekah Vardy and Nicola McLean pictured together in 2018
‘There can be rivalry and unfriendliness with someone in the group and the top dog and there can be a lot of drama. It isn’t just amazing holidays and designer clothes there can be a lot of behind-the-scenes politics between the girls.’
On some of the most famous WAGS, she went on: ‘A lot of women want to emulate Victoria Beckham, Alex Gerrard, Elen Rivas – they dine out on the fact they’re a WAG and it can consume you.’
Nicola then pointed out that it is not all it seems with Mrs Vardy and Mrs Rooney: ‘I know some WAGs will only be interested in the hierarchy, fame and drama but I don’t believe Rebekah is like that. She’s not fussed about the press or limelight.
‘Everyone thinks Coleen is really private – but remember she’s done countless interviews, books and even her own TV show.’
Mrs Vardy’s friend and agent, Caroline Watt 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.
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
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.
Unlike Rebekah, Coleen arrived at court with just her husband and not an entourage of lawyers.
However, her legal team is just as impressive and versed in the world of celebrity as her fellow WAG’s.
David Sherborne, 53, who has been dubbed one of Hollywood’s favourite lawyers, acted for Mrs Rooney during the trial.
He was lead counsel for victims of press intrusion in the Leveson inquiry, and represented Johnny Depp in his libel suit against The Sun. In November 2020, the High Court ruled that Depp had lost his case.
In September 2020, Sherborne parted company with the Duchess of Sussex’s legal team which had endured an early set back in her case against The Mail on Sunday.
David Sherborne, 53, who has been dubbed one of Hollywood’s favourite lawyers, acted for Mrs Rooney
Sherborne’s previous clients also include Princess Diana, Melania Trump, Sir Paul McCartney, Sienna Miller, Kate Moss and Harry Styles
Sherborne’s previous clients also include Princess Diana, Melania Trump, Sir Paul McCartney, Sienna Miller, Kate Moss and Harry Styles.
His father was a QC, but while he comes from a legal family, he is seen as a ‘rebel’ in many ways due to his apparent fondness for the limelight.
A former colleague told The Times: ‘He likes to present a fun, outgoing persona and is very limelight-seeking.’
While he’s known for rubbing shoulders with A-listers, Tattler and Evening Standard both commented he is ‘so handsome’ he could be a celebrity himself.
The twice-married barrister was revealed to be having a relationship with a member of Lord Leveson’s junior counsel, Carine Patry Hoskins in 2013.
Ms Hoskins, dubbed the ‘thinking man’s Pippa Middleton’ – was Lord Leveson’s number two.
Also on Coleen’s team was Paul Lunt, Head of Litigation and partner at Liverpool-based firm Brabners.
Brabners were involved in Ben Stokes acquittal of affray and his successful breach of privacy claim against the Sun.
The firm was also involved in securing a not guilty verdict for grime artist Bugzy Malone in his GBH case and is acting for various former international cricketers in relation to the Azeem Rafiq racism scandal.
Also on Coleen’s team was Paul Lunt, Head of Litigation and partner at Liverpool-based firm Brabners. Brabners were involved in Ben Stokes acquittal of affray and his successful breach of privacy claim against the Sun
Mr Lunt (pictured next to Coleen) is a renowned commercial litigator and sport lawyer with more than 25 years’ experience
Mr Lunt is a renowned commercial litigator and sport lawyer with more than 25 years’ experience.
He is known among colleagues for his highly pragmatic approach to litigation and is a leading sport’s lawyer with clients including The Rugby Football League, Nichols Plc (Vimto), TJ Morris (Home Bargains), Arnold Clark, Chester Racecourse and Phoenix Sports Management.
He has represented national governing bodies, prominent sports clubs, Premiership footballers, Ryder Cup golfers, England international cricketers and Olympic Medalists.
He is classed as a top-ranked ‘Recommended Lawyer’ and ‘Leading Individual’ in the 2019 edition of The Legal 500 which notes that he is ‘extremely astute and knowledgeable with a very proactive commercial approach to resolving disputes’.
Commercial litigator Jamie Hurworth also joined Coleen’s team from top legal firm Brabners.
Jamie, 30, started at the firm as a trainee in 2015 and has worked his way up after graduating from the University of Newcastle and University of Law.
He handles a broad range commercial disputes such as director, shareholder and joint venture disputes, contractual claims, professional negligence actions and cases and deals with urgent injunctions and handles alternative forms of dispute resolution such as international arbitration.
Commercial litigator Jamie Hurworth (pictured next to Wayne) also joined Coleen’s team from top legal firm Brabners
Who else is on Team Coleen?
Coleen was joined in court by supportive husband Wayne, with whom she shares four children.
Wayne, who has been with Coleen since the age of 16, last played with Jamie Vardy for England in 2016.
Both husbands have kept mostly quiet on the clash, however Wayne did note in his Sunday Times column before last year’s European championships that he would have drafted Jamie Vardy into the England team.
He added: ‘Some people may be surprised at this, especially with the legal case between my wife and Jamie’s wife.’
Coleen was joined in court by supportive husband Wayne, with whom she shares four children
Both husbands have kept mostly quiet on the clash, however Wayne did note in his Sunday Times column before last year’s European championships that he would have drafted Jamie Vardy into the England team
Ms Rooney has always maintained that nobody was aware of her ‘sting operation’ when she decided to post a number of fake Instagram stories and eventually limit who could see them to just Ms Vardy. Three of these were later published in The Sun and are at the centre of the sensational libel battle.
But Ms Vardy’s lawyers insist that several people could have been the source of the leaks and that Ms Rooney told Wayne and others about what she was getting up to while also sharing details of the false posts with them.
Meanwhile, when Rebekah furiously denied the allegation in a lengthy Twitter statement, her husband showed his support by liking her post.
Mrs Rooney thanked her fans and said there ‘are a lot of really good people’ in the world in an Instagram story in February 2022.
And along with her devoted fans, the WAG has also been publicly supported by Danielle Lloyd, who came forth with similar claims about Mrs Vardy leading to a row between the duo on social media in 2019.
Mrs Lloyd made a thinly-veiled dig at Mrs Vardy after weighing in on the Mrs Rooney row during an episode of This Morning.
Mrs Rooney thanked her fans and said there ‘are a lot of really good people’ in the world in an Instagram story in February 2022. And along with her devoted fans, the WAG has also been publicly supported by Danielle Lloyd (pictured together), who came forth with similar claims about Mrs Vardy leading to a row between the duo on social media in 2019
The TV personality detailed her ‘similar run-ins’ with the footballer’s wife, before Mrs Vardy claimed Mrs Lloyd was only upset because she didn’t ‘recruit’ one of Jamie’s footballer pals for her after her divorce from Jamie O’Hara
This came amid reports that many of the WAGs had distanced themselves from Mrs Vardy at the time and were busy ‘scrutinising’ past conversations with her, following the fallout from her feud with Mrs Rooney.
Following Mrs Lloyd’s appearance on This Morning, Mrs Vardy was quick to retaliate, as she took to Twitter to claim that the TV personality’s admission was ‘utter b******s’ and their feud was sparked by her refusal to try and find Mrs Lloyd a man following her split from Jamie [O’Hara].
She wrote: ‘Danielle Lloyd making false claims on @thismorning that we have had ‘similar run-ins’ is utter b****cks. She is just fuming that I ‘didn’t get Jamie recruiting’ for her like she asked me to…’
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.
May 10 onwards – The trial lasts seven days