'Wagatha Christie' libel lawyer says evidence was destroyed

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Rebekah Vardy departs the High Court in London, Thursday, May 19, 2022. A trial involving a social media dispute between two soccer spouses has opened in London. Rebekah Vardy sued for libel after Coleen Rooney accused her of sharing her private social media posts with The Sun newspaper. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

LONDON – A high-profile libel court battle between two British soccer spouses concluded Thursday, with one lawyer accusing the claimant, Rebekah Vardy, of deliberately destroying key evidence that allegedly showed she leaked her opponent's private social media posts to tabloid reporters.

Vardy, the wife of Leicester City star Jamie Vardy, brought the defamation case against fellow soccer wife Coleen Rooney after an online spat between the two women spiralled.

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The falling-out grabbed national headlines in October 2019 when Rooney, who is married to former Manchester United and England star Wayne Rooney, said she purposely posted fake stories on Instagram over several months to find out who was passing her private information to The Sun newspaper.

In a social media post that quickly went viral, she declared that Vardy was responsible because she had blocked everyone except an account belonging to Vardy from seeing her Instagram stories.

The case, which is being closely watched in Britain, has been dubbed the “Wagatha Christie” trial — a play on “WAG,” a slang term for wives and girlfriends of soccer players, and a reference to detective novelist Agatha Christie.

Vardy denied the claims and is suing for libel, despite judges calling for the women to settle the case. The trial, which was on its sixth and final day at London's Royal Courts of Justice, has reportedly cost millions of pounds.

Wrapping up his arguments, Rooney's lawyer David Sherbourne accused Vardy of deliberately deleting phone messages to “cover up incriminating evidence." The lawyer also alleged that Vardy had a “consistent practice of secretly leaking information to the press.”

Vardy's lawyer rejected the claims, saying Rooney had failed to produce any evidence to support the accusations. He said his client suffered “public abuse and ridicule on a massive scale” as a result of Rooney's claims about her, and that she is entitled to substantial libel damages.

The judge said she would reserve her ruling until a later date.

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