DAN WOOTTON: I understand Rebekah Vardy’s frustration but watching the Wagatha Christie courtroom catastrophe has convinced me she made the biggest mistake of her life by legally pursuing Coleen Rooney
I must start this column by saying I like Rebekah Vardy – she’s a good mum and wife, and has long been a real grafter determined to establish her own career away from her rich and famous husband.
Just imagine being judged by the nation based on a tiny number of private WhatsApp messages to your closest confidante, best friend and business partner at a moment of intense emotional distress.
That’s not an accurate reflection of someone’s character – and I refuse to buy into the vile trashing of this woman, an outspoken and hilarious WAG who has added to the fun of the wild world of British celebrity, on social media.
How quickly the #BeKind brigade forget when they have the next target in their sights, be it Rebekah or Amber Heard, who is engaged in the world’s other most toxic courtroom showdown across the Atlantic.
Working with high profile journalists is not criminal, it’s sensible; that’s why most of the biggest stars in the world do it.
I do understand the Vardy’s very real frustration at seeing Wayne and Coleen Rooney being presented as the whiter and white king and queen of respectability and privacy, when I know all too well their media manipulation and close relationship with the press over many years knows no bounds.
Pictured: Rebekah Vardy looks downcast as she leaves court after the end of her libel trial
All of that said, watching this slow-motion car crash these past two weeks has convinced me Rebekah made the biggest mistake of her life pursuing Wagatha Christie to the High Court.
No good was ever going to come from it.
If there’s one lesson I learnt from my two-year battle with Johnny Depp in the same court, it’s to avoid libel lawyers at almost any cost.
But, just like Coleen, I had no choice – Depp was going to drag me there come hell or highwater, even though he would end up being the biggest loser.
It’s astonishing to me that Jamie and Rebekah watched that courtroom catastrophe, yet still decide to wage a legal battle in the glare of the media with Depp’s notorious defender David Sherbourne – a nasty dog with a bone – repping the Rooney’s.
Pictured: Dan Wootton
Sure enough, every day of the case has brought a tonne of toxicity, leaving us all asking the same question: Why on earth did you ever think this was going to be a good thing?
Some of the worst claims were saved for the closing arguments today.
Attention seeking Sherbourne unleashed a torrent of negativity about Rebekah, claiming that she ‘lied under oath’, had ‘selective’ memory on the stand, gave ‘implausible’ evidence that ‘cannot be trusted’ and deleted incriminating WhatsApp messages.
Now, I’m not taking away from Rebekah’s frustration that most of the media and virtually all influencers swallowed Coleen’s ‘It was Rebekah Vardy’s account’ post hook, line and sinker, without any evidence to prove Rebekah was the one behind the leaks.
I always thought it was unforgivable that Coleen effectively unleashed a torrent of trolling on Rebekah when she was seven months pregnant.
Would the revenge for Rooney and all the laughs for everyone else have been worth it if something had happened to Rebekah’s unborn baby? Of course not.
The trauma of those days was all too clear as Rebekah broke down in the witness box recalling the barrage of abuse she was subjected to; the evidence seemed genuine and deeply upsetting.
Wayne and Coleen Rooney arrive at Manchester Airport on Thursday morning as the head out to Dubai with their children and her parents for a holiday while the libel trial concluded
Pictured: Vardy carries a tissue in hand and looks downcast at the end of the libel case
As her lawyer Hugh Tomlinson QC argued in court today: ‘This is a case about Mrs Vardy and the way she has been treated by thousands, maybe tens of thousands of people on social media… this goes on to this day.
Even during this trial she’s continued to receive abuse on social media. Whatever public entertainment has been gained from this case, this is a serious matter that has been a great burden to my client and her family in the last two and a half years.’
But equally I found Coleen and Wayne’s evidence pretty heart wrenching.
The unexpected fallout from the post that Coleen insists she wasn’t expecting has taken a brutal toll on her marriage to Wayne, which, let’s be honest, was hardly the strongest before Wagatha Christie.
The stress connected to the case has left Coleen a changed mother and wife, according to Wayne.
It all seems so desperately sad and unnecessary.
Harry and Meghan – that other legally trigger-happy couple – should have a think before they next engage Schillings, the London lawyers who they seem to have on speed dial.
Meanwhile, reports today suggest the Vardy’s are considering a move to the US to get away from this whole mess.
Remember, Coleen made her famous claim about Rebekah being The Sun’s leak in October 2019.
Think of what’s happened since then: A global pandemic, the hell of two years of lockdown, a European war, a cost-of-living crisis, the death of Prince Philip, heck, Abba even reunited after four decades to release a new album!
The world has completely changed, but both the Vardy’s and Rooney’s have been frozen in time, stuck reliving every tawdry detail of this affair, which has been trapped in the back of their minds for every waking minute of the past three years.
And Rebekah has felt compelled to throw her close friend and former agent Caroline Watt overboard for the leaks, just like her phone that went mysteriously missing in the North Sea.
What a personal and professional disaster Wagatha Christie has been.
Thanks to Britain’s ridiculous libel laws, the burden lies on Coleen to establish on a balance of probabilities that her bombshell Instagram post is substantially true, something that’s very difficult to do.
But, regardless of the judge’s verdict, for pursuing this futile, selfish and unwise legal action through the courts, I’m sad to admit it’s the Vardys who will suffer the bigger reputational consequences.
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