London – Few cases have mobilized the press and social media in the UK for as long as a famous beef that became one of the most followed trials in the country, which ended last week.
The parties who faced each other in court are married to two English football stars. Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney became childhood besties after one accused the other of leaking personal information obtained from their Instagram account to the tabloid The Sun – always him.
The accuser lost the action, but everyone left scorched in a saga that looks like a movie plot.
Celebrity bullshit exposed celebrity media relations
The beef exposed debatable practices in the relationship of celebrities with the media, showing how easy it is to manipulate a part of the press to achieve a goal.
Just feed your insatiable hunger for exclusive news − even if it is obtained in a less than commendable way. And in certain cases, offered in exchange for money, as suggested but not proven.
Coleen is married to Wayne Rooney, who shone at Manchester United. The link between the two, in sophisticated Portofino, Italy, was “sold” to OK! for £2.5 million.
She has worked as a celebrity columnist and on TV. Therefore, she understands how the famous media works.
Rebekah is the wife of Jamie Vardy from Leicester. The athletes were from the England football team, and the two appeared together at events and in the stands.
Until, in 2019, Coleen noticed that information posted on his closed Instagram account appeared frequently in The Sun newspaper.
In a spying move, he posted three false information and adjusted the settings so that they were only seen by the “friend”, who fell into the trap. All three stories appeared in The Sun.
One of them was even silly, a leak in the basement of the house. But for the tabloids, any sigh from a celebrity that isn’t public is worth a smidge.
Due to the ruse, the beef became known as “Wagatha Christie”, in allusion to the mystery writer and the expression wag (in wives and girlfriends), coined by the tabloids to refer to fellow players.
How celebrities and normals deal with the media
This is where the difference in handling such a situation begins, which if it had happened to a “normal” person, it might not have had the same outcome.
In October 2019, Coleen Rooney tweeted about the spy storyline and its conclusion.
He did not directly accuse the ex-friend, but revealed that the only account that saw those posts was that of… Rebekah Vardy, at that time eight months pregnant.
For those who did not want to have their lives accompanied, it was a questionable move. She could have ended the friendship discreetly, and the story not have turned into the beef it did, because even winning the case, it was affected.
The media did not let the case go cold. On social media, each new bid was shared and commented on, as if it were a soap opera. And was. Many intimacies were revealed.
But the worst was yet to come. If the case had stopped there, it would have ended up getting cold and today few would remember the story. However, to the surprise of many people, the accused decided to challenge the accuser with a defamation lawsuit.
Anyone who works with crisis management must have already had to assess the risk of opening such a process. Even winning, bleeding may not pay off.
In Vardy’s case, there was evidence that she had leaked directly or through agent and friend Caroline Watt, who was unlikely to do so without her consent.
The decline was total, with accusations of treason and destruction of evidence. A telephone would have been thrown into the sea to avoid being handed over to the authorities. Three years of bad publicity.
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To prove that the friendship was not sincere, the defense got a WhatsApp message in which Vardy referred to Coleen as a “nasty bitch”. Pure elegance.
A week ago the author was defeated, coming out of her bravado £3 million poorer.
For Judge Karen Steyn, Rooney proved the essence of the case was “substantially true”.
And Vardy’s claims were deemed “inconsistent, evasive or implausible”. One of them, suggested by people close to him, was that the account had been hacked.
Is it worth suing?
One of the most debated aspects, before and after the verdict, was why Rebekah Vardy faced a legal fight with little chance of winning.
More than lost money, she became a bad example and was abandoned by friends. Who would want to be friends with a demonstrably indiscreet person?
And for those who live in the world of famous people like Vardy, the beef will cost dearly, losing invitations or contacts with brands.
The story, which is being prepared to become a movie, also raises the issue of excesses on social networks, even in private groups.
Anyone who dares to tell everything that happens in their life is subject to leakage, intentional – as in this case – or accidental.
Amid the confusion, The Sun was the least affected. Like other tabloids, it lives off leaks long before social media existed. And if it paid for the news, as suggested, it wouldn’t have been the first time.
But the networks may be making the job a little easier and exacerbating the insanities around notoriety and the influence game. In the case of Wagatha Christie, a game with no winners, and that seems to have a lot of extra time.
In newspapers and on social networks, developments and speculation continue, mainly around the payment of compensation.
Not even Agatha Christie would invent such a plot.
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