Lawyers have presented their closing arguments in the so-called Wagatha Christie libel trial, where footballers’ wives Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney are battling over a 2019 Instagram post.
Vardy launched a defamation suit after Rooney accused her of leaking stories from her private Instagram account to The Sun newspaper.
But while the two women were in the spotlight in court in London, one key player in the drama was missing: Vardy’s agent and friend Caroline Watt.
Rooney’s lawyer David Sherborne today argued that holding the trial without Watt was ‘like Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark’. Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark, is of course “the main character in Shakespeare’s famous tragedy”, the BBC said.
Who is Caroline Watt?
According to the Daily Mail, Watt began managing Vardy in 2015. A former Virgin Atlantic flight attendant, Watt oversaw Vardy’s media interviews and brokered the deal for his appearance on I’m a celebrity… Get me out of here! in 2018.
Her husband, Steve Watt, “played for Chelsea and Swansea City before becoming manager of Hythe Town in Kent” until last November, the newspaper added. And, “before the pandemic, she regularly visited the Vardy home in Lincolnshire.
Watt was employed by talent agency The Front Row Partnership, but “left in 2019 to fly solo and kept Ms Vardy as a client,” The Independent said.
Why is it relevant to the case?
In February, Rooney tried to have Watt added to the lawsuit for allegedly breaching data protection laws and leaking private information to the media.
According to the lawyers, after Rooney publicly complained that someone was betraying her to the press, Watt sent a message to Vardy that read, “He was not someone she trusted. It was me.”
When asked why she didn’t challenge her agent about the post, Vardy said “she was bathing her kids and watching Dancing on the ice“, reports the site i news.
Sherborne also pointed to the “extraordinary explanations” offered by Vardy’s team about the key evidence that has gone missing. The court heard Vardy claimed he lost his messages while trying to forward them to his attorney. Her husband – Leicester City and former England striker Jamie Vardy – said his messages were lost when his phone was hacked.
And “Watt said his phone accidentally fell into the North Sea when his boat was hit by a wave while on a Scottish holiday,” The Times reported. Today, Sherborne described it as a “fishy” tale. “Rip up Ms. Watt’s phone,” he told the court.
So where is Caroline Watt?
Ultimately, the judge declined to add Watt to the case “on the basis that the application was filed too late and would delay the main libel suit for up to a year, which would be unfair to Vardy,” said said The Guardian.
According to The Independent, Watt was not “called to testify orally during the trial as she is said to be in a ‘fragile condition’ and deemed ‘unfit’ to give evidence”.
Rooney’s lawyer, Sherborne, suggested in court that while Watt was responsible for leaking stories about Rooney to The Sun, “she was doing Rebekah’s dirty work as a hitman.”
He said: ‘It comes down to the two suspects, Caroline Watt and Ms Vardy herself. We say they were both in the same boat.
Vardy’s team admitted that Watt had gained access to their client’s Instagram account, but insisted: “Vardy doesn’t actually know what happened, she doesn’t know how this information got to the press, everything what she knows is what she did and she knows it wasn’t her.
She agreed to direct Watt to one of Rooney’s Instagram posts about his Honda crash, but said she had no knowledge of the officer “monitoring” the account.
What happens next?
Sherborne has emphasized what he calls the “hand in hand” relationship between Watt and Vardy throughout the trial. He argued that if Vardy condoned or condoned any leaks to the press via Watt, she was “responsible for her agent’s actions.” He also accused Vardy of throwing Watt “under the bus”.
“Just because she wasn’t the one who pulled the trigger on occasion – because she didn’t want it to come back to her – doesn’t mean she wasn’t responsible” , did he declare.
Madam Justice Steyn is expected to deliver her decision at a later date.