I somehow managed to avoid all knowledge of the Wagatha story until watching this documentary and I am now very glad I did. The new Disney+ documentary about it was absolutely gripping. I also see now how unsuitable the ‘Wagatha’ title is. While it is fun, it’s also derogatory to a woman of Coleen Rooney’s courage, dignity and cleverness. In case anyone out there doesn’t know the story, it begins when Coleen Rooney realises that her private Instagram posts were appearing in The Sun newspaper. Come on, I thought—how can you expect to keep something private if you post it on social media? But actually, that’s exactly what Coleen expected.
Her Instagram was completely private, composed exclusively of friends and family. So when her stories, posted only on that private account, started appearing in Britain’s most notorious tabloid, her distress and paranoia make a lot more sense. Who among her closest circle would do such a thing? Pictures of her boys and Wayne in bed, Christmas mornings, holidays by the poolside in swimwear. Private stuff. Coleen had suspicions early on—Rebekah Vardy, wife of footballer Jamie Vardy, was a fairly new Insta follower.
Coleen also suspected that Rebekah had links to The Sun, because she was always appearing there in very positive articles. And to be brutally honest, Rebekah’s not important enough to be plastered on tabloid pages off her own back. Coleen knows this, and she knows that The Sun doesn’t do favours. Rebekah must be giving them something they want. So instead of confronting Rebekah and getting only a, ‘No babe it wasn’t me, how could you??’ back, Coleen laid a trap.
It takes three fifty-minute episodes to explain just how clever Coleen Rooney is. It was not only her plan that was ingenious, but her relentless recording and note-taking of events and details, no matter how small, which led the judge to rule in her favour. And cases like hers don’t win—her lawyers were not optimistic. You can’t prove that someone saw and Instagram post and then leaked the story to a tabloid—that just doesn’t happen. The British press protect their sources at all costs, and how can you prove Rebekah was the only person who saw it?
Just like this: when Coleen suspected that Rebekah Vardy was behind the leaks, she hid her Instagram stories from every follower except RV, and waited. She watched and waited for weeks, months. Sometimes nothing happened—but other times, a post which only Rebekah had seen appeared in The Sun. Coleen finally had definitive proof. But even that wasn’t enough in a court of law—someone else running Rebekah’s account could have leaked the story. This is where Rebekah’s PR agent Caroline Watt comes into play. Caroline also helped run Rebekah’s account. Doesn’t that deflate the idea that Rebekah was the leak? It wasn’t me, Rebekah said. It was my PR agent.
The most marked impression that comes from this documentary is what an unpleasant person Rebekah is, and what a brave, moral person is Coleen. The judge essentially ruled on this basis. Coleen really does have a very private Instagram account made up of three hundred people—friends, colleagues and family members—who have her back, and would never leak her stories to the press. Rebekah simply couldn’t believe it. That’s why she assumed she’d get away with leaking stories, because she thought there would be so many other bad people following Coleen who’d do the same. But there weren’t. No one else in Coleen’s life would do that.
One does feel sorry for Rebekah, as awful as she is. I don’t particularly enjoy watching someone humiliated so publicly. Coleen. But she is awful. And she started it. By the end of the court battle, Rebekah throws her poor accomplice Caroline Watt under the bus. She claims she had no idea about the leaks, and that Caroline Watt orchestrated it all. Coleen’s lawyers demand to see the WhatsApp messages between the two women, and the judge agrees. Laughably, Rebekah’s team submits the messages with huge black bars disguising the text. Judge says: try again. The second time round, Rebekah is forced to reveal every detail of every WhatsApp message between her and Caroline, and it’s not pretty. ‘How funny that Coleen can’t prove it’, says Rebekah in one of her messages, ‘but it was me.’
Disney+ hit the nail on the head with this one. It has everything we’d want in a documentary—true crime, espionage, warring wives, newspaper headlines—and behind it all, a moral tale of a good woman who is a good mother and wife. That is how Coleen sees herself. She is a traditional stay-at-home mum and she has proven that stay-at-home mums can wield as much power and influence as their celebrated working husbands. And she did it all on her own. Coleen didn’t have a team of lawyers when she was putting the case together against Rebekah Vardy. She single-handedly built a case which exposed the seedy, immoral ways in which newspapers like The Sun operate—and she won. She did all that while ferrying her four boys to school and football clubs day after day. One of her friends joked that Coleen had set up an office in her SUV. She’s not wrong—Coleen had binders, notepads, sticky notes, print-outs of Instagram posts, timelines, all laid out in the passenger seat while she waited outside the boys’ football club. Every mother knows how much time is spent waiting in cars during after-school clubs, and Coleen used that time to build a case against someone who was invading her and her family’s privacy. It could all seem like such a waste of time—so unnecessarily stressful to wade through years’ worth of social media posts and tabloid headlines.
But in the end, a judge ruled that Coleen’s efforts were worthy of upholding in a court of law. How’s that for a stay-at-home mum? I hope the world agrees soon—‘WAG’ doesn’t quite cut it with Coleen Rooney. Her legacy will be the moral battle that she fought in court and in front of the world’s media, and won.