On a recent trip back to the UK, I was asked more than once by friends and family about the recent trial involving Colleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy. It's very rare that my twin loves of football and forensic technology ever meet, and I was happy to discuss.

For those of you not conversant in UK football or celebrity culture, the women in question are both married to English footballers and are known in the UK as "WAGs", or wives and girlfriends, a term popularised during the 2006 World Cup. They were until fairly recently, friends.

Rooney suspected Vardy of leaking stories to the press from Rooney's private Instagram account. Through a process of elimination and by sharing fake stories on her Instagram, Rooney deduced that Vardy was the source of the leak, posted on social media that Vardy had leaked the stories to the press, and the term "Wagatha Christie" was coined. Vardy then sued Rooney for libel and that's how they ended up in the London High Court.

You may be asking why on earth this has any relevance to forensic technology – the answer is that Vardy has been accused of deliberately destroying evidence in relation to the case. Her reasons had more than a sniff of "the dog ate my homework" to them – apparently her agent dropped her mobile phone off the side of a boat into the North Sea, Vardy lost crucial WhatsApp passwords, and also had a laptop destroyed.

This is not unusual to see in our line of work. In the most bizarre and brazen case I remember from early in my career, the subject of a dawn raid excused himself to the bathroom only to be found by the supervising solicitor ten minutes later in his office. He had opened his desktop computer up and was stabbing the hard drive with a screwdriver. Thankfully we were able to recover plenty of incriminating evidence from the drive and his counterfeiting days were over.

My point is this – at the outset of any matter, always conduct a thorough identification phase to have an idea of what data sources you may be dealing with before forensically collecting for further review. If you are an employer, bear in mind that your employee is under no obligation to hand their personal phone over if they don't want to – it's always better to issue your own company devices.

Finally, if the dog has indeed eaten the homework, bear in mind that the judge may take a dim view. The High Court judge in Vardy's case concluded that the loss of digital information by Vardy and her agent was "not accidental", and that Vardy and her agent had "deliberately deleted or destroyed evidence". As well as inflicting a reputational "own goal", in theory Vardy's actions could have also exposed her to proceedings for contempt of court, perjury or attempting to pervert the course of justice.

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