‘Wagatha Christie’ trial: Wayne Rooney to give evidence in libel case

·3 min read
<span>Photograph: Neil Mockford/GC Images</span>
Photograph: Neil Mockford/GC Images

Wayne Rooney will this week give evidence in his wife’s “Wagatha Christie” libel trial, as the multimillion-pound case at the centre of a media circus enters its final days at the high court in London.

England’s record goalscorer has sat in court next to his wife, Coleen Rooney, throughout but until now has remained stoically silent and impassively staring into space. The football manager did not react as he listened to his wife tell the court about difficulties in their marriage or the impact that tabloid intrusion had had on their personal lives over the last 20 years.

Rooney has been called as a witness for his wife’s defence and is likely to be asked about an alleged exchange with his then England teammate, Jamie Vardy, about Rebekah Vardy’s dealings with the media.

Coleen Rooney’s witness statement claims that when her husband was captain of the England football team at Euro 2016, he warned Jamie that his wife’s decision to write a column for the Sun during the tournament “was causing a distraction to the touring party”. Rebekah Vardy denies this was the case.

Related: Yes, I’m the jester who coined ‘Wagatha Christie’ – my gift to headline writers everywhere | Dan Atkinson

Coleen has previously said that Wayne was completely unaware she was conducting a supposed sting operation to find out who was leaking stories from her private Instagram account to the Sun. In 2019 she publicly alleged the source of the leaks was Rebekah Vardy’s Instagram account, prompting Vardy to sue for libel.

While Jamie Vardy has stayed away from the court – instead training and scoring goals for Leicester City – Wayne Rooney has been ever-present at his wife’s side, sitting on the front row of the courtroom and helping to carry designer bags into court. During one break in proceedings, he stood outside the courtroom cheerily chatting with a man in a Liverpool FC shirt attending a different trial, while at another he held the door open for lawyers and journalists as they left court.

The Derby County manager has also had to deal with jibes about his financially stricken football club. At one point Hugh Tomlinson QC, Vardy’s barrister, asked Coleen Rooney whether she had any hard evidence that Vardy was the leaker – rather than simply a strong belief. He posed the question: “You might believe Derby County might win the Premiership in two years’ time. It’s not evidence is it?”

Rooney did not flinch at all when he heard the comment. It would be impossible for Derby County to win the top division of English football within two years because they have just been relegated to the third tier.

The trial will resume on Monday morning with Coleen Rooney continuing to be cross-examined. Under English libel law it is up to Rooney to prove her original accusation that Vardy was the individual leaking stories about her family to the Sun.

By Rooney’s own admission her case against Vardy is based on circumstantial evidence. Vardy’s team insist the reason there is no smoking gun is because Vardy was not involved in leaking the stories in question. Rooney’s lawyers have argued that the circumstantial evidence is overwhelming and key material that could prove their client’s case has been deliberately destroyed or mislaid.

While Vardy only called one witness – herself – Rooney’s defence team have called a number of PR advisers, agents and former Football Association staff to give evidence. The trial is scheduled to finish on Wednesday after seven days of public court hearings.

There is no jury in the case and high court judge, Mrs Justice Steyn, who has been overseeing proceedings, will then hand down a judgment at a later date.

The trial continues.

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