What is the 'Wagatha Christie' trial and why is it called that? The Vardy v Rooney case explained

The losing party must pay up nearly £3 million in legal fees

a side by side photo collage of Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney at the Wagatha Christie trial in May 2022
(Image credit: Future)

As the infamous WAG falling out continues to be dramatised - many want to understand what is the Wagatha Christie trial and how it came to be called that.

It's the scandal that lit up social media and dominated British newspaper columns as everyone had their own opinion to give of the 'Wagatha Christie' saga... Kicking off in October 2019, the ordeal involved the wives of two famous English footballers - Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy. What started as a post online soon grew into a full blown court case in May of last year. And following the conclusion, more has been made of the much talked about drama - including a documentary, stage show and the Channel 4 show Vardy v Rooney: A courtroom drama, which details who won the Wagatha Christie case

Just like Gwyneth Paltrow's appearance in court and the Stephen Bear trial, the public are eager for information on what the 'Wagatha Christie' trial - as it's become known - is actually about. From how it started, to who said what, and the meaning behind the hilarious nickname.

What is the 'Wagatha Christie' trial?

The 'Wagatha Christie' trial is a civil court case between Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy - wives of famous England footballers Wayne Rooney and Jamie Vardy. Rebekah Vardy sued Coleen Rooney for defamation after Coleen accused Rebekah on social media of selling stories about her and her family to The Sun newspaper.

Coleen named Rebekah as the source of the story leaks in October 2019. Suspicious that information only shared on her private Instagram account was appearing in The Sun newspaper, she carried out her own investigation to figure out who was behind the disclosing of information. 

"I have saved and screenshotted all the original stories which clearly show just one person has viewed them. It's.......... Rebekah Vardy's account," tweeted Coleen.

Rebekah Vardy immediately responded and denied the allegation made against her, saying that she “never” speaks to the press about her friends’ personal lives. Explaining why she was the only one who had viewed the stories - she suggested it could be a number of unnamed people who had access to her Instagram account.  

“Just this week I found I was following people I didn’t know and have never followed myself,” Rebekah tweeted shortly after in October 2019. “I’m not being funny but I don’t need the money, what would I gain from selling stories on you? I liked you a lot Coleen & I’m so upset that you have chosen to do this.”

Rebekah Vardy continued to declare her innocence, on one occasion appearing on ITV's panel show Loose Women  in tears, saying that online trolls had targeted her following Coleen's claims, which had caused anxiety attacks that saw her ending "up in hospital three times”.

In late June 2020, the mum-of-five filed a libel lawsuit against Coleen Rooney. Suing on grounds of defamation, lawyers for Vardy say she “suffered extreme distress, hurt, anxiety and embarrassment as a result of the publication of the post and the events which followed”.

In May 2022, Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy attended court with their representatives for the libel trial proceedings. Taking place at London's Royal Courts of Justice, both wives gave evidence and their account of events. 

During the trial, Mrs Vardy again denied the claims made by Coleen. “I didn’t leak anything,” she told the court. "I didn’t give any information to a newspaper.”

The trial lasted for 7 days - beginning on 10 May and ending on 19 May, 2022.

Why is it called 'Wagatha Christie'?

The term 'Wagatha Christie' arose on social media, shortly after Coleen Rooney made her accusations against Rebekah Vardy. The nickname is a mix of the acronym WAG (which means Wife and Girlfriend of a high profile sportsman) and Agatha Christie (a famous author known for her crime and detective novels).

After gaining popularity online, various British press publications then starting referring to the saga as 'Wagatha Christie' in their articles.

The Daily Mail suggest that the phrase was first coined by 39-year-old Dan Atkinson, a dad-of-two from Folkestone, Kent. He previously told the Mirror: "I knew the tweet was a neat pun, but anyone who says they can guess what will go crazy is lying, aren't they? My first thought when I saw it trending was that I wish I had spelt it correctly.

"As far as I know I was the first person on this one," he added. "Pretty funny really for a four-word tweet, I have had a marriage proposal and suggestions that I become prime minister and also be knighted."

Others have similarly claimed ownership of creating the Wagatha Christie nickname. And the phrase still gets widely used today on Twitter and other social media platforms - referring to the case.

What was the Vardy v Rooney verdict?

Rebekah Vardy lost her high-court battle and was ordered to pay up to £1.5 million to Colleen Rooney to cover her legal fees.

Mrs Justice Steyn presented her official verdict of the 'Wagatha Christie' trial on Friday 29 July, 2022. The judge stated that Vardy's deliberate attempt to destroy Whatsapp messages and other evidence affected the libel trial. This is in part what influenced the decision that Vardy was to pay back 90% of Rooney’s court costs.

On top of this figure, Vardy will also have to pay for her own legal costs - which combined with Rooney's legal fees - could total over £3 million.

Failure to produce a certain mobile phone - which was lost over the side of a boat in the North Sea - is believed to have led to the significant fees Vardy now has to pay. The phone in question was believed to have contained vital evidence for the trial.

“Coleen’s pursuit of that evidence is a major reason why her legal costs increased substantially from the original estimates given to the court long before the start of the trial," said Paul Lunt, of Brabners solicitors, who represented Rooney.

The verdict last May marked just over two-and-a-half years since Coleen Rooney first shared the viral social media post accusing Vardy.

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Emily Stedman
Features Editor

Emily Stedman is the former Features Editor for GoodTo covering all things TV, entertainment, royal, lifestyle, health and wellbeing. Boasting an encyclopaedic knowledge on all things TV, celebrity and royals, career highlights include working at HELLO! Magazine and as a royal researcher to Diana biographer Andrew Morton on his book Meghan: A Hollywood Princess. In her spare time, Emily can be found eating her way around London, swimming at her local Lido or curled up on the sofa binging the next best Netflix show.