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‘Wagatha Christie’ Case Offers a Riveting Peek Into Celebrity Culture


Interest was so high that attendees spilled into an overflow room on the London courtroom. Juicy revelations and verbal jabs from lawyers were blogged live by journalists and summarized by news outlets as diverse because the BBC and The Day by day Mail — though by Thursday, journalists waiting outside the courtroom seemed ready for the trial’s end.

Ms. Rooney and her husband, the previous England soccer captain Wayne Rooney, had been experiencing marital tensions, it was revealed in a single session. WhatsApp messages between Ms. Vardy and her agent, Caroline Watt, disparaged Ms. Rooney and discussed leaking stories about other people in exchange for payment, the court also heard. And a phone potentially containing relevant WhatsApp messages was by accident dropped by Ms. Watt into the North Sea, Ms. Vardy’s lawyer said — a mishap that Ms. Rooney’s lawyer, David Sherborne, said seemed to be a case of concealing evidence.

“The story is fishy indeed, no pun intended,” Mr. Sherborne said.

Ms. Vardy acknowledged that Ms. Watt could have passed details about Ms. Rooney to The Sun newspaper, but Ms. Vardy’s lawyers argued that there was insufficient evidence that Ms. Vardy herself was accountable for any leaks. They’ve also said that Ms. Watt is in poor health and subsequently not in a position to provide testimony.

Ms. Vardy “has obviously made mistakes — she trusted someone that she shouldn’t have,” her lawyer, Hugh Tomlinson, said on Thursday. But he called accusations of her deleting evidence “conspiracy theories.”

If Ms. Vardy wins the libel case, the damages awarded are more likely to be within the tens of hundreds of kilos, based on legal experts, with Ms. Rooney probably having to pay her rival’s legal fees. If Ms. Rooney wins, Ms. Vardy might be left with the bill for the fees and will face a counter case for infringement of privacy, Ms. Matthews, the defamation lawyer, said.

“The trial isn’t going to vary the image of libel because the preserve of the wealthy,” Ms. Matthews added, noting that few people had the cash to risk on such legal proceedings.

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