Last week, dozens of cases were on the High Court’s daily cause list in London. Virtually no one but those directly involved was even remotely interested in any of them.
On the other hand, two millionaires fighting over whether one of them has the right to blame the other for leaking stories from a private social media account to the press? That was a different story.
The defamation lawsuit brought by Rebekah Vardy, wife of a Leicester City and England footballer, against Coleen Rooney, wife of a former Manchester United and England footballer, has garnered attention even in the US, where most people don’t even know how to pronounce Leicester.
For some, it’s all just an Instagram feud — a class of controversy in the same category as a Twitter spat or unfriending someone on Facebook.
And they are right. Had this happened between people who didn’t have the financial means to take it to court, we would hardly be able to register it.
Just because Rooney and Vardy are clearly no ordinary people, it eats up countless inches of columns and hours of airtime — a fact that irritates those who believe war and trade and the symbolic ownership of maternity hospitals are the only matters that should concern the serious ones.
However, the mind is big enough to have many different thoughts at once – and it’s not rude that some of them are delving into this particular trial, which has now ended after weeks of testimony from both sides, with a judge retiring to order to decide A judgment.
This is not to give credence to the annoying notion that there is a profound lesson to be learned from the result. It certainly doesn’t make social media a better or less toxic place. That’s not how the medium works. Apps like Instagram encourage and reward recklessness.
Even as that case ended, thousands of users took to Twitter to speculate about the identity of the unnamed Tory MP who was arrested and questioned last week on rape and sexual assault charges (he has since been released on bail). further inquiries).
It was already widely known who he is, but many innocent parties were also named on Twitter. The frustration of being part of a circle of “knowers” will always trump caution in such situations.
It’s the same impulse that makes famous people, or their agents, or PAs, or friends or enemies, leak stories about each other to the media.
Sometimes it’s for money or because they want to tarnish a rival’s reputation, but it can also be because they know something other people don’t – and the urge to blurt it out becomes overwhelming.
In a way, Coleen Rooney was also to blame. Realizing that stories about her in the tabloids could only have come from someone who followed her personal Instagram account, she set up an elaborate undercover operation. Realizing that Vardy’s account was the only plausible source, she then went public with her allegation, earning her the nickname Wagatha Christie.
Rooney was motivated by a real sense of injustice, but also by the thrill of revealing something she believed to be true that no one else knew.
Things got even more chaotic when the law stepped in — especially when Vardy was able to point out the fact that other people had access to her Instagram account, making it entirely possible that someone other than her had leaked the stories in question.
Rooney may not believe her, not least because Vardy admits to leaking an unrelated story to the press (but only once, she points out). The public may not believe her either, or even despise her for sticking to her story.
But that’s both the beauty and frustration of the law. Rooney must prove what she said is true; Vardy doesn’t have to prove otherwise. The slightest doubt can be enough to tip the verdict in their favor.
Vardy’s mental health has undoubtedly been affected by being publicly accused of leaking details about Rooney’s personal life to the media. She was pregnant at the time and was mercilessly teased by strangers on social media. The trolling continues.
Some of the mainstream media coverage isn’t much better. Vardy was portrayed as trashy, cheap, and stupid during the trial. Her body and soul are being pawed by ghouls. The word “misogyny” is overused, but it doesn’t feel out of place here.
To be fair to Rooney, she hadn’t expected the whole thing to explode like this, let alone end up in court. She’s only there because Vardy sued her, a fact that will haunt the latter for years, win or lose.
Last week, reams of Vardy’s own WhatsApp messages to her agents became public domain.
“Pathetic,” said one tabloid, as if that weren’t their bread and butter. Even more striking was how familiar they felt. They were like someone’s messages – unfiltered, unedited, carefree.
In some, Vardy complained about someone using Photoshop to make themselves look slimmer than they really were; others involved a certain unnamed married celebrity who appeared to have slept with a footballer.
Who, hand on heart, can honestly say that they weren’t just as unloving towards others or spreading gossip? God knows I’ve said some horrible things to friends on WhatsApp or in private messages on Twitter just to calm them down or make them laugh.
It’s easy to fall into that comfortable indiscretion with someone you trust to take it as intended.
A judge decides on the legal situation. Everyone will have their own opinion on this, too, because it is human nature to take sides. But very few of us would survive this intense engagement with our private, unguarded moments.
Pull the brouhaha away and it’s not immediately obvious that either of these women got much wrong in the grand scheme of things.
The high-minded may brand their argument as the legal equivalent of a brawl in a pub parking lot at closing time, but this is an attempt to “change” both parties by separating from them and pretending to be better.
A better way to see this process is just a pretty sad story involving people who have done some absurd and stupid things, yes, but who hasn’t?
They may be richer than us, but it’s easy to picture yourself in their two shoes.
Whoever wins, whatever winning even means in this story, the two women deserve some sympathy. It just went a little too far, that’s all.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/the-wagatha-christie-libel-trial-has-only-shown-that-the-rich-are-the-same-as-everybody-else-they-do-absurd-and-foolish-things-but-who-hasnt-41674472.html The “Wagatha Christie” defamation trial only showed that the rich are just like everyone else. They do absurd and stupid things, but who hasn’t?