For scandal aficionados worldwide, today marks a very special anniversary – an entire year since Coleen Rooney, an Instagram ruse and a bunch of ellipses shook the showbiz world.
Yes, October 9 marks the anniversary of the legendary ‘It’s……… Rebekah Vardy’s account’ post, a tweet that united showbiz lovers, gossips, defamation experts and those who pine for the glory days of the 2006 Baden-Baden WAGs in one fell swoop.
The players? Coleen Rooney, the now 34-year-old wife of England and Manchester United legend Wayne Rooney, who she shares four sons with, author and go-to girl next door for campaigns for George at ASDA and Littlewoods; and Rebekah Vardy, now 38, wife of Leicester superstar Jamie Vardy, mum of five and former campmate on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! The scandal? An alleged plot to leak fake stories to newspapers, and its airing on social media.
Coleen’s accusation that Rebekah had been leaking fake stories about her to the press was headline news not only across the UK, but made it into papers like the Wall Street Journal, who cited the war between the the pair as a feud bigger than Brexit. It dominated panel shows for weeks, and Twitter timelines were flooded with jokes dubbing Coleen ‘WAGatha Christie’, due to her slick plot to uncover a follower’s alleged dastardly leaking.
But while it began as an online clash between two of the UK’s most famous socialites, the clash between Rooney and Vardy is now heading to the courts, with a defamation trial on the horizon.
So, in honour of this most glorious of anniversaries, we look back on everything that has happened since that fateful day when Coleen pressed ‘send’ and triggered a full-blown war.
It’s……… Rebekah Vardy’s account
On Wednesday, October 9, 2019, Coleen Rooney shared a statement to Instagram and Twitter, alleging that her fellow WAG Rebekah Vardy had been selling fake stories to the press.
In a rather genius plot, Coleen revealed that she had been sharing fake stories to her own Instagram stories – like Cheshire home being flooded during Storm Lorenzo, her considering the gender selection of her next child, and that she was thinking about a return to television – after suspecting that one of her followers was leaking tales from her private account to the press.
Captioning her statement: ‘This has been a burden in my life for a few years now and finally I have got to the bottom of it……’, Coleen wrote: ‘For a few years now someone I trusted to follow me on my personal Instagram account has been consistently informing The Sun newspaper of my private posts and stories.
‘There has been so much information given to them about me, my friends and my family – all without my permission or knowledge. 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. (Those on my private account must have been wondering why I haven’t had stories on there for a while.)
‘Over the past five months I have posted a series of false stories if they made their way into the Sun newspaper. And you know what, they did! The story about gender selection in Mexico, the story about returning to TV and then the latest story about the basement flooding in my new house.
‘It’s been tough keeping it to myself and not making any comment at all, especially when the stories have been leaked, however I had to. Now I know for certain which account/individual it’s come from.
‘I have saved and screenshotted all the original stories which clearly show just one person has viewed them. It’s…… Rebekah Vardy’s account.’
Rebekah denies the allegations
Rebekah immediately fired back with her own statement, denying she had leaked any stories.
Rebekah, who was then pregnant with her fifth child, wrote: ‘As I have just said to you on the phone, I wish you had called me if you thought this. I never speak to anyone about you as various journalists who have asked me over the years can vouch for.
‘If you thought this was happening you could have told me & I could have changed my passwords to see if it stopped. Over the years various people have had access to my Insta and just this week I found I was following people I didn’t know and have never followed myself.
‘I’m not being funny but I don’t need the money, what would I gain from selling stories on you? I liked you a lot Coleen and I’m so upset that you have chosen to do this, especially when I’m heavily pregnant.
‘I’m disgusted that I’m even having to deny this. You should have called me the first time this happened.’
She concluded her post with a broken heart emoji.
Rebekah wants a forensic investigation
After denying the allegations, Rebekah confirmed that she had hired a legal team to conduct a ‘forensic investigation’ to determine whether anyone else had access to her account.
Addressing the reports on Instagram, she wrote: ‘On a more serious note I’ve been inundated with messages from everyone but I’m not saying anything more until we’ve finished looking into this situation properly.’
Coleen, however, doubled down on her claims, with a rep saying: ‘It is irrefutable that the leaks came from one account, and one account only.’
Rebekah compares Coleen to a pigeon
Days after Coleen’s initial post, Rebekah spoke to the Daily Mail from Dubai, claiming that she was blocked by her former friend on Instagram months before the scandal.
She said: ‘I sent her a message and asked her: “Have I done something, is there a problem here? I seem to be blocked on Instagram”.
‘And she said no, it was probably one of the kids messing about with her phone that had done it. She was completely convincing.’
Speaking about seeing Coleen’s allegations on social media, Rebekah said she called her and said: ‘Coleen, what on earth have you done?’
‘It was not an easy phone call. She said to me: “I’m not pointing the finger” and I said: “You have just annihilated me in public and hung me out to dry. The whole world hates me!”
‘I thought she was my friend but she completely annihilated me. She said: “You know, I always really liked you, which makes it harder.”’
However, the best quote from the interview came when Rebekah was asked whether she argued with Coleen over the phone, saying: ‘That 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 s*** in your hair.’
Rebekah breaks down in tears on Loose Women
There were snipes on social media over the next few months, but Rebekah’s next interview on the subject came in February 2020, when she appeared on Loose Women following the birth of her daughter Olivia Grace.
The WAG was in tears on the panel as she explained that while she couldn’t say too much due to their legal dispute, her war with Coleen was ‘‘one of the worst things I had to deal with apart from being abused when I was younger’.
She shared that she had received horrific abuse from online trolls, resulting in her going to the police and ‘several arrests’ being made, and was hospitalised with anxiety attacks.
Rebekah said: ‘I ended up with severe anxiety attacks. I ended up in hospital three times. I ended up with kidney stones. I felt like I couldn’t go out with people just looking at me just questioning.. whether.. did she do it? Did she not do it?
‘It was a hard time. [My daughter] found it really, really difficult. There were people finding her Instagram and sending horrible messages. I think it’s hard for the kids, you can only say to them, “Don’t read it, not everyone likes you and not everyone’s going to be your friend and that’s okay”.’
Coleen sacks her legal team
Signalling that a face-off was brewing, in June 2020, Coleen sacked her legal team and hired new representation.
A source told The Sun: ‘Coleen still won’t back down — and now she’s decided who to hold responsible, she is planning to fork out big time and hire a very expensive London legal team who are specialists in media and privacy work.’
Rebekah files defamation lawsuit
There were reports that Coleen and Rebekah’s case would be settled out of court, and the pair attempted mediation with their legal advisors over video call to try and avoid a court battle.
However, the arbitration hearing was not successful, and efforts at a resolution between the two WAGs failed.
And on June 12, Rebekah filed a claim for defamation – libel and slander against Coleen.
She will have to detail why exactly she believes she has been defamed (libelled if defamed in writing or slandered, if defamed by the spoken word) – that is, that her reputation was damaged by Coleen’s allegations.
It is said that the High Court battle could cost both sides £500,000 in costs.
Coleen’s lawyer, Paul Lunt of Brabners, issued a statement saying: ‘It is disappointing that Mrs Vardy has chosen to issue court proceedings.
‘Coleen feels that the time and money involved could be put to better use; her offer to meet face to face still stands.
‘Mrs Vardy’s decision to issue court proceedings does at least mean that Coleen’s evidence can be made public when the time is right.’
In the legal documents, Rebekah claims she has been made a ‘scapegoat’ by Coleen, and alleges that the star has approved her friends to leak stories to the press about her and Wayne’s marriage.
Court papers claim Vardy ‘has deliberately been made a scape goat (sic) by the Defendant (Coleen) for past “leaked” stories that have been published about the Defendant and her husband, in particular about their marriage, which have in fact come from the Defendant’s friends, at times even with the Defendant’s approval.’
Rebekah’s lawyers say that The Sun journalist Dan Wootton said on talkRADIO on 19 October 2019 that Coleen had ‘manipulated the media to tell stories about her own life’, adding that he had ‘written many, many stories’ about her marriage and ‘lots of other things around the Rooneys’ that had come directly from friends of Coleen including some told ‘with her (Coleen’s) approval’. He went on to say on talkRADIO that nothing had ever come from ‘any of the Vardys’, the document adds.
Rebekah’s statement of case accuses Coleen of making her claims ‘in a calculated and deliberate manner that was designed to cause very serious harm and enormous distress’ to her. It reads: ‘The publication by the Defendant of the words complained of and entirely foreseeable republications and repetitions of them have gravely injured the reputation of the Claimant.’
The statement goes on to say that Rooney’s actions had ‘exposed her to public ridicule and contempt’ and ’caused her enormous distress and very extreme embarrassment’. The document also states that Rebekah felt ‘suicidal’ amid the scandal.
It reads: ‘The abuse that followed the Post made the Claimant feel suicidal. ‘She suffered from severe panic attacks and anxiety which manifested in being scared to leave her house.’
The document says that the abuse led to her and family members being harassed by the media had caused her to develop ‘severe insomnia’, and Rebekah claims to have been taken to the hospital three times due to anxiety attacks as a result of Coleen’s post ‘and the repercussions from it’.
It adds: ‘The Claimant’s stress was such that she had concerns about losing her baby or going into early labour.’
The document includes some of the threats and abuse Vardy received online following Rooney’s accusation, including a message reading: ‘’You fat ugly f***ingg rat I genuinely hope you and your baby rot and die an extremely painful death for what you have done.’
Another post said: ‘Your baby deserves to put in the incinerator and so do you, fat nosed c**t. I hope childbirth hurts.’
Rebekah’s statement of claim says that she is claiming ‘aggravated damages’ for libel in respect of words published or caused to be published by Coleen on her Instagram and Twitter accounts. She is also seeking an injunction restraining Coleen from making similar claims about her in the future ‘whether by herself, her employees, her agent or otherwise’, and costs.
Rebekah files papers to ‘haul Coleen into court’
On August 24, Rebekah asked for an interim hearing this year to move things along, feeling that Coleen was ‘dragging her heels’.
A source told the newspaper: ‘Things have been rumbling on for ages, and costs spiralling too. This will mean that a judge can actually get to the crux of the case — and make those involved put up or shut up. It should mean things can finally get moving and dealt with quickly.’
Coleen files her defence
Coleen laid out her defence in a 55-page report, in which she shared her ‘fake’ Instagram stories – such as a snap from an airplane seat with the caption: ‘Let’s go and see what this gender selection is all about’.
The document says: ‘The unauthorised disclosure of private material from the Defendant’s private Instagram account was deeply distressing to the Defendant. The Defendant was left not knowing who to trust.’
The report is also thought to lay out the lengths Coleen went to in order to find out who was selling stories on her and, she claims, proves no one other than Rebekah could have passed on the stories to the press.
A spokesperson for Coleen said of the document: ‘Coleen has always been confident of her position, although she takes no pleasure in now having to set out in public court documents the reasons why.
‘It remains a matter of deep regret to her that Rebekah seems determined to persist with court action despite Coleen’s offers of private mediation. Coleen believes the money being spent could be put to much better use in these times.’
Coleen’s attorney added: ‘We confirm our client, Coleen Rooney has now filed her defence to the High Court to proceedings which Rebekah has chosen to bring.
‘Coleen’s defence makes clear why, from the outset, she has been entirely confident in her position. She remains surprised and disappointed at Mrs Vardy’s decision to initiate these proceedings and to continue to pursue these matters through the courts […]
‘The Claimant [Vardy] acted in this way for the purposes of promoting herself and/or financially exploiting her public profile, particularly as the partner of the well-known footballer, Jamie Vardy.’
Coleen also reportedly accuses her former friend of having an ongoing relationship with journalists, of being The Sun’s ‘secret WAG’, and consistently leaking stories to the press.
Rebekah joins Dancing On Ice
As well as fighting a legal battle, Rebekah announced that she’s making a TV comeback in the new year, as she joined the cast of the new series of Dancing On Ice.
And while discussing the gig on Good Morning Britain, she also addressed her other high-profile situation.
She said: ‘We tried to sort things out amicably, it just didn’t work.
’I understand people think it’s ridiculous but what was I meant to do? I need to clear my name.
‘I want to clear my name and I will do whatever it takes and I hope that it will be resolved soon. It’s just one of the things that has to go through the process unfortunately now.’
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