Unless there is a late outbreak of common sense, the libel action brought by Coleen Rooney against the other one (or is it the other way round?) begins today. If you are interested in the story, the BBC has an article today which, among other things, gives credit to the inventor of the “Wagatha Christie” tag.
It features here because of a couple of disclosure points which are of passing interest (that is, their determination will not change anything, but it is always good to have disclosure issues illuminated for public attention).
Its origin lies in social media data – Instagram posts which, so it is claimed, could only be seen by one person – and one of the recurring points in this blog is that social media creates evidence which may be useful if you know how to get at it (and remember to think of it). Here it is central to the story, not merely a peripheral point.
It has caught the eye because of a phone which, most unfortunately, fell overboard into the North Sea just after an order was made for its preservation. Writing about that, I said:
The first version in the Times…said simply that the phone was “dropped overboard”. That seemed to imply a deliberate act – hand over the side, fingers loosening, and a gentle sound as the device disappeared into the briny. Later versions talked of a mishap in rough seas, summoning images of a phone dashed from the hand by fearsome waves. I have to say that if my phone was the subject of a recent order for examination, I’d wrap it in cotton wool, lock it in a box, and deliver it personally to the lawyers, not take it yachting.
It is not yet clear whether the data thus lost is of any use to anybody, but there may be some amusement in hearing the story.
There is also some WhatsApp data which, when we first heard of it, had mysteriously disappeared somewhere between its keeper and the lawyers. It was subsequently said that an IT expert had forgotten the password.
I do not expect any great points of principle to come out of this trial but, as I have said, I always welcome cases which catch the public eye and alert people to the importance of everyday data.
I have written about this case here and here. Whether I write more about it depends on what emerges from the trial.