Those nine legendary dot dot dots, that triple ellipsis typed out by Coleen Rooney before the fateful words “Rebekah Vardy’s account” intimate she’d given this matter quite some consideration. That she’d hovered, finger on the trigger, for a long thrilling moment, before firing what she thought would be the fatal shot.
Her Instagram sting operation had been going on for almost five full months by that point. Five full months to wonder where this deadly road might take her. She’d had all the days and nights she could possibly have needed to work through all the angles, to look down the many branches of history that would fork their way forward from that defining second, when she chucked that irretrievable stink bomb in to the players’ wives enclosure of English football’s VIP club.
But even she, surely, did not see that she would be setting herself on this precise path. That it would lead to here, the witness box of the Royal Courts of Justice, where she’d be raising her right hand and swearing to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, with seven figures’ worth of chips on the table and the wheel in motion, the world waiting to see if she really can prove that she definitely knew, for sure, that it really was ……… Rebekah Vardy’s account.
Sitting there, hand fresh off the holy bible, it is hard not to speculate that she rather wishes it hadn’t gone this far. That she is not wholly unaware of the air of ridiculousness about it all. The dudes in wigs, the binder after binder of evidence files, the terrifying hourly fees.
A casual glance around the court room, and a bit of mental arithmetic adds up, quite possibly, to tens of millions of pounds of private school fees invested in this oak-panelled room, as it bears witness to such phrases as: “I don’t know if her ladyship will be familiar, but is there a difference between the way stories and posts are displayed on Instagram?”
And it’s not as if the farce stops there. On Friday afternoon, I happened to encounter no more or less than two members of High Court staff. One was leading a guided tour in which he was explaining to tourists that “all photography, anywhere in the building is strictly forbidden.” The other was being ticked off by a copper for asking Wayne Rooney for a selfie, a request to which Rooney had obliged.
Three years and millions of pounds later, it is a struggle not to get stuck in the weeds of what should be a simple case. Did Coleen Rooney know for sure that it was Rebekah Vardy’s account, at the time at which she had claimed it was Rebekah Vardy’s account?
For two full days, Rebekah Vardy has had to style her way through a gruelling interrogation, where the extent of her and her agent’s mindbending wheeler-dealing with The Sun was laid bare (Rebekah Vardy denies all this, a denial that depends on a willingness to believe that hundreds upon hundreds of her WhatsApp messages don’t mean what they clearly say).
But, and this is a bit of a technicality, all this has come to light only after the point at which Rooney’s bombshell allegation was made. Even if her bombshell allegation can be shown to very nearly certainly be true, it is not of huge benefit to her if the evidence that shows it to be true has only come to light long after the allegation was made.
For almost an hour, the court was treated to lengthy legal discussion about what has become, quite literally, the deus ex machina in this case, namely a smashed up Honda 4x4 that probably drives off the forecourt for less than a full day’s consultation with Rooney’s legal team.
That a minor prang with a lorry in Washington DC had ended with a story in The Sun and a worried call from a friend back home, about whether she was okay after her “accident”, is what has brought us all to this place.
“It made me so angry that it gave me the motivation to put it out there that someone was leaking all this stuff from my private Instagram,” Rooney said. And it was at that point, that the Wagatha Christie plan was initiated, the clandestine restricting of all but one account – Rebekah Vardy’s account – and the posting of fake stories to ensnare her supposed betrayer.
One doubts whether, in that moment, Rooney considered that she would eventually be causing some big legal minds to ruminate on some very big questions.
Like, for example, how “private” are some scrapes down the side of a car, if as well as being shared on Instagram they’ve been driven round the streets of a major city? Or, how closely can Mrs Rooney guard her own precious privacy if she and her children pose in their pyjamas for Matalan?
Or, how “private” really is a private Instagram account if, for example Peter Crouch’s wife Abbey Clancy can “share” a post on it with her own followers (an inadvertent transgression for which she later apologised)?
As these weighty questions weighed heavy in the air, at the end of a very long week for all concerned, the record should probably state that Manchester United and England’s record goalscorer stared into the middle distance, as he has done throughout, in a begrudged acceptance of his especially cruel fate.
Namely that he’s the only person in the room, apart from the judge, who probably can’t get away with whiling away the long hours playing with his phone.
For him, almost certainly, the highlight of the week was some stymied banter with a chap who turned up outside the court room in a Liverpool FC Champions League tracksuit who claimed to have some kind of connection to a case being heard elsewhere in the building.
Was it ……… Rebekah Vardy’s account? Did Coleen Rooney know for certain it was ……… Rebekah Vardy’s account when she accused Rebekah Vardy of it being Rebekah Vardy’s ……… account? These are questions that will largely remain unknowable even when all the money’s been spent. The only winners, as always, will be the guys in the wigs. Even if they actually lose.