In fall 2019, which depending on the day probably feels like either two weeks or two decades ago but most certainly not two-ish years ago, we were treated to a very British scandal thanks to a few football wives.
That’s when Coleen Rooney conducted an Instagram sting operation to determine who was leaking stories about her to the Sun. Rooney did this by slowly winnowing down who could actually see Instagram stories, in which she fabricated personal stories to see if they were published. In the end, with just one account able to view the (legitimately fake) news but stories still being published, Rooney went public with her accusation: it was Rebekah Vardy all along.
This has been a burden in my life for a few years now and finally I have got to the bottom of it…… pic.twitter.com/0YqJAoXuK1
— Coleen Rooney (@ColeenRoo) October 9, 2019
Vardy and Rooney are both married to English soccer/football stars (striker Jamie Vardy and striker-turned-manager Wayne Rooney), plus this is an objectively funny story, so this reveal was big news at the time. Here’s what we wrote then:
Honestly, it’s tough to not just sit back in awe of the time and effort she put in here. That the alleged leaker ended up being the wife of another English player (in this case Jamie Vardy) only guaranteed more tabloid headlines, of course, but if ever there were a story worthy of them it’s this one. (That it’s a story that also exposes the inherently dubious nature of places like The Sun is also fun.)
Vardy, for her part at the time, strongly denied the allegations.
— Rebekah Vardy (@RebekahVardy) October 9, 2019
Vardy sued Rooney for libel, always the last-ditch move for public figures facing credible published claims that they’re horrible people. That choice means we’re getting something that nearly matches the original Rooney tweet for sheer joy: a British court proceeding, involving plenty of private messages being made public.
This is literally the opening line in a Guardian piece on the evidence in a case where Vardy is suing for libel after being accused of leaking stories to the Sun:
Rebekah Vardy said she would “love” to leak stories about Coleen Rooney to the media, according to messages disclosed at the high court.
The court filings suggest Vardy and her former agent Caroline Watt had an ongoing relationship with reporters at the Sun newspaper and discussed at length how to leak stories to the tabloid.
But wait, there’s more:
Some of the private messages relating to the case are missing, for a variety of unfortunate reasons. Vardy’s former agent said her mobile phone was accidentally dropped in the North Sea shortly after Rooney’s lawyers requested access to the device.
“Coincidentally, around the same time, all media files from Mrs Vardy’s WhatsApp conversation with Ms Watt also bizarrely disappeared (and from all backups), whilst apparently in the process of exporting it to her solicitors,” said Rooney’s lawyers.
Who hasn’t accidentally dropped the odd cell phone into the North Sea shortly after lawyers request access to it? Even Vardy’s own data recovery witness questioned how this series of events could have occurred:
Rebekah Vardy’s own expert described the data recovery situation as “surprising” and “unusual”.
There’s something almost charming in knowing that no matter what else has happened in the world in the years since late 2019, Rebekah Vardy is still out there holding a very sharp grudge against someone despite clearly having admitted to at least wanting to do what she was accused of doing. That’s a single-minded commitment to denial that is, albeit not admirable, at least notable.
We can only hope she continues to press the case, for entertainment value alone.