While America’s (and the world’s) eyes are firmly on the Johnny Depp–Amber Heard defamation trial — which centers on the very serious topic of domestic abuse — over the pond, there’s another, almost unbelievable trial happening: the case of Wagatha Christie. Brits like me are obsessed with the storyline and how it unfolded, but it seems the U.K.’s footballer’s wives whodunnit hasn’t quite made its way to the U.S. yet. It really should, though. It’s much more entertaining, and less associated with men’s rights activism, than the Depp-Heard trial — featuring everything from suspiciously “lost” evidence, celebrity finstas and the resurfaced revelation that 1990s British heartthrob Peter Andre has a penis the size of a “small chipolata.” (A chipolata is a thin, somewhat diminutive sausage).
The juicy scandal all started in October 2019, when British television personality Coleen Rooney accused fellow WAG — the name given to the wives and girlfriends of professional athletes — Rebekah Vardy of leaking private stories about her to the press. (Rooney and Vardy are the wives of former England football players Wayne Rooney and Jamie Vardy.) The case got its name when Rooney detailed her Agatha Christie-style investigation on social media.
“For a few years now, someone who I trusted to follow me on my personal Instagram account has been consistently informing The Sun newspaper of my private posts and stories,” Rooney wrote. “After a long time of trying to figure out who it could be, for various reasons, I had a suspicion. To try and prove this, I came up with an idea. I blocked everyone from viewing my Instagram stories except ONE account. Over the past five months I have posted a series of false stories to see if they made their way into The Sun newspaper. And you know what, they did! Now I know for certain which account/individual it’s come from.”
Rooney then wrote the line that would become a viral sensation. “It’s……… Rebekah Vardy’s account.” The post was so good that it sparked its own hashtag — #WagathaChristie, for obvious reasons — countless memes and even became the go-to Halloween costume of 2019. The leaked stories in question include one about the Rooneys’ mansion flooding, another about Coleen Rooney being “in talks” to join reality show Strictly Come Dancing and a third about Rooney traveling to Mexico for “gender selection” treatment. Rooney says all of the stories were planted as a sting operation to trick Vardy into leaking them.
Vardy has vehemently denied the allegations, writing in her own Instagram post at the time: “I’m not being funny but I don’t need the money, what would I gain from selling stories on you?” She did, however, admit that other people had access to her account, meaning someone else on her personal team could have leaked the stories. She also told the Daily Mail that she’d never argued with Rooney about it because it would be like “arguing with a pigeon. You can tell it that you are right and it is wrong, but it’s still going to shit in your hair.” Gorg. Anyway, Vardy sued Rooney for libel, which is the trial that’s happening now.
But if you think the wildest drama already happened, you’d be wrong — the trial is exceeding its tumultuous expectations. Highlights so far include Wayne Rooney turning up everyday with a “man bag” — which he says is actually his wife’s — Coleen Rooney furiously taking notes in a leopard print journal and the disclosure of Wayne’s secret Instagram account: Wazzaroon08. Vardy’s agent, Caroline Watt, also told the court her phone “fell into the sea” after it was ordered to be searched as part of the case (it’s been suggested that it’s actually Watt who’s responsible for the leaks). Still, this hasn’t stopped Watt and Vardy’s texts from being submitted as evidence, with poetic lines like “What a cunt” and “Stupid cow deserves everything she gets” being read out loud in court.
The scandalous texts also show Vardy and Watt explicitly discussing leaking stories about various people to The Sun, which raises the burning question: Why would Vardy choose to launch this trial when the evidence appears to be damning? Despite, as BBC News reports, judges “repeatedly [pleading with] them to settle the matter out of court,” the WAGs went ahead with the trial, with legal costs for each side estimated to be “upwards of £1m.” Is proving you didn’t leak some fake Instagram stories really worth it? For Vardy, maybe not. But for us, the gossip-starved public, yes!
While Americans might not care quite so much about two random British celebrities arguing, Wagatha Christie is, as Twitter users have labeled it, “the legal showdown of the century” for Brits. It marks a nostalgic return to the 2006 heyday of WAGs, which itself happened at a prime time for English football (think: David Beckham, Stevie Gerrard, Frank Lampard… the list goes on), and in a pre-Tory, pre-2008 financial crash era. The fact that it’s happening behind closed doors — unlike the livestreamed Depp-Heard trial — makes it all the more juicier. Drip feed me gossip, court daddy! It’s also just chaotic as hell, and — because the topic isn’t particularly serious — you can watch it without, say, mocking domestic abuse.
Depp stans have their fanfiction about an alleged abuser, Wagatha Christie has glammed-up WAGs calling each other “cunts” in court. I know what I’ll be watching: Coleen Rooney’s Instagram stories for leaks.