An Obscure Point Of Law Could Change Everything In The Wagatha Christie Case

Just when you thought this case couldn't get any weirder.

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LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 12: Coleen Rooney (R) and the manager of EFL Championship club Derby Co...
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After months of high-octane drama, the summer’s most riveting battle of the wits is finally nearing its conclusion. Nope, we’re not talking about Love Islandthough that’s a strong contender, too. Instead, Coleen Rooney and Rebakha Vardy’s final day in court is right around the corner, marking the end of a legal saga involving sharp tailoring, Davy Jones' locker, Peter’s Chipolata, and a libel case with all the key components of a true crime drama.

Popularly known as the ‘Wagatha Christie’ case in honour of the suspenseful, detective-esque social media post by Rooney which kickstarted the whole thing, the final outcome might just hinge on a 300-year-old court ruling involving an 18th Century chimney sweep, some stolen gems, and a rogue jeweller. That’s definitely not one I had on my bingo sheet.

What is the ‘Wagatha Christie’ case all about in the first place?

In a nutshell, Rebekah Vardy is suing fellow footballer’s wife Coleen Rooney for libel after she alleged that Vardy was leaking information from her private Instagram account to the press. Of course, we all remember the dramatic reveal — after planting a series of fake stories and limiting the number of people who were able to view them, Rooney eventually unmasked her prime suspect with one now-iconic sentence. “It’s....... Rebecca Vardy’s account.”

Vardy continues to deny that she leaked the stories, and when Rooney refused to take down the post or retract her allegations, she sued for libel. And here we are now in the High Court! Since then, a lot more has gone down – catch up the ins and outs of the case here — but that’s the gist of it.

The Obscure Point Of Law That Could Prove Critical

Over the course of the multi-million-pound libel battle, missing evidence has been a recurring theme – and the court has been unable to access a series of WhatsApp conversations between Vardy and her agent Caroline Watts. Vardy claims that Watts accidentally dropped her phone into the North Sea (days after Rooney’s lawyers asked to search it) and that her side of the same conversations are also unavailable, though she “cannot confirm or deny” that this is due to getting a new phone. On the final day of the libel trial, Rooney’s lawyers alleged that Vardy manually deleted the messages, and purposefully destroyed other evidence that could’ve been used by Rooney’s legal team.

And so in the absence of any direct evidence, Rooney’s defence case instead hinges upon a 300-year-old court ruling called Armory v Delamirie. The 18th century ruling involved a chimney sweep who found a precious piece of jewellery while he was sweeping a fireplace, and a rogue jeweller who stole the ring’s valuable gemstones while valuing the item, leaving behind empty holes. The 1722 verdict set the precedent that if crucial evidence is missing in court, it must be assumed that it is of the highest possible value. In that case, it was missing gems. In this one, it’s Vardy’s missing WhatsApp messages. Speaking about the messages that had been successfully recovered — in which Rooney is allegedly referred to as a “c**t” and a “bitch” — Rooney’s barrister David Sherborne told the court that “one can only imagine how badly [Vardy’s] position would look were the court to have access to what she was able to successfully delete. What remains cannot be anything other than the tip of the iceberg.”

If the judge agrees with Rooney’s barrister’s argument, the case could well be decided in her favour.

When is the final verdict taking place?

It’s………. on July 29, at 12 p.m. As it’s taking place remotely, the rival WAGs won’t be required to go into court to hear the final verdict of Mrs Justice Steyn – but her decision will end a case which has gripped lovers of showbiz gossip since June 2020.

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