Who's who in the ‘Wagatha Christie' case
As the libel trial between Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney is set to begin, the PA news agency looks at some of the people involved in the case.
– Rebekah Vardy
The footballer’s wife bringing the claim, Mrs Vardy’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
Mrs Rooney, 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.
Mrs Rooney 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 will not be taking part in the trial after a consultant forensic psychiatrist produced a report which concluded she is not fit to provide oral evidence.
Ms Watt may be best known as the owner of a phone which fell into the North Sea following a preliminary hearing – part of what Mrs Rooney’s lawyers have called “a series of unfortunate events” about the disclosure in the case.
At the final preliminary hearing at the end of April, Mrs Rooney’s lawyers claimed that a new witness statement from Mrs Vardy “suggests Ms Watt was the source of the leak but claims that (Mrs Vardy) ‘did not authorise or condone her’”.
– Jamie Vardy
A relative late bloomer in footballing terms, Mr Vardy’s career as a striker has seen him rise from non-league clubs to the top of the English game with Leicester City.
His 24 goals helped drive the Foxes to their remarkable 5,000-1 Premier League triumph six years ago, while he was also part of the squad that secured the FA Cup in May last year.
Foxes fans coined the chant “Jamie Vardy’s having a party” amid his goal-scoring exploits.
With Mrs Vardy he has children Sofia, seven, Finley, five, and two-year-old Olivia Grace. He also has one child from a previous relationship.
– Wayne Rooney
Bursting on to the footballing scene as a prodigious teenage talent playing for Everton nearly two decades ago, Mr Rooney went on to be England’s most-capped outfield player and record goal-scorer.
He collected a glut of trophies as a forward with Manchester United, later playing in the US.
Mr Rooney retired as a player last year and was appointed permanent manager at recently relegated Championship side Derby County.
This year, he was the subject of a documentary on Amazon Prime Video about his life and career.
– 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 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.