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Johnny Depp Loses Libel Case Against The Sun Over Claims He Beat Amber Heard

by : Julia Banim on : 02 Nov 2020 10:16
Johnny Depp Loses Libel Case Against The Sun Over Claims He Beat Amber HeardPA

Actor Johnny Depp has lost his libel case against The Sun after the publication printed an article alleging he had beaten his ex-wife Amber Heard.

Depp, 57, sued The Sun’s publisher, News Group Newspapers (NGN), as well as executive editor Dan Wootton, over a 2018 article bearing the headline, ‘Gone Potty: How can JK Rowling be ‘genuinely happy’ casting wife beater Johnny Depp in the new Fantastic Beasts film?’

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The Pirates of the Caribbean star sued the publisher for causing damage to his reputation, however the court has now refused to award him any compensation for damages. Depp has denied all allegations of abuse against Heard.

Johnny DeppPA Images

Mr Justice Nicol has today ruled in favour of NGN, finding the article in question to be ‘substantially true’, as per the Evening Standard.

As per The Guardian, NGN relied upon a defence of truth to the claim during the trial, with The Sun having a burden of proof to demonstrate the article was substantially accurate in terms of the balance of probabilities.

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Handing down the verdict, the judge said:

Although he has proved the necessary elements of his cause of action in libel, the defendants have shown that what they published in the meaning which I have held the words to bear was substantially true.

I have reached these conclusions having examined in detail the 14 incidents on which the defendants rely, as well as the over-arching considerations which the claimant submitted I should take into account.

Amber HeardPA Images

A spokesperson for The Sun said:

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The Sun has stood up and campaigned for the victims of domestic abuse for over twenty years.

Domestic abuse victims must never be silenced and we thank the Judge for his careful consideration and thank Amber Heard for her courage in giving evidence to the court.

Johnny DeppPA

This verdict comes three months after the closing statements were made. During the trial, the court heard testimonies from Depp, Heard, security personnel and various employees, as well as from friends and relatives of Depp and Heard.

As per the Metro, Depp’s lawyer David Sherborne described the article as having made ‘defamatory allegations of the utmost seriousness’, making the following statement on the opening day of the trial:

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The articles amount to a full-scale attack on the claimant as a ‘wife beater’, guilty of the most horrendous physical abuse. The author deploys a panoply of cultural and topical references – namely the #MeToo movement, the Time’s Up movement and the disgraced film mogul and serial abuser of women Harvey Weinstein – in order to convey the seriousness of what the claimant is alleged to have done.

They are allegations which the claimant absolutely denies, and which, at the time of publication, he had already publicly denied. Despite that, the defendants published the allegations, without any reference to the claimant’s position, to launch (Mr Wootton’s) ‘brand new column’ with a fanfare.

Johnny Depp giving an interviewPA

Sherborne continued:

They even deliberately misused and misquoted #MeToo/Time’s Up victim Katherine Kendall to present the false impression that she – and by obvious implication the #MeToo movement as well – endorsed these allegations, something which Ms Kendall complained about in writing to The Sun but to no avail.

The claimant’s position is clear – Ms Heard’s allegations are complete lies. The claimant was not violent towards Ms Heard, it was she who was violent to him.

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johnny depp amber heardPA Images

NGN’s lawyer claimed the description of Depp as a ‘wife beater’ was in fact ‘accurate and truthful’, with lawyer Sasha Wass stating that Depp had exhibited ‘physically destructive behaviour’ during the relationship whenever he ‘failed to control his alcohol and substance abuse’:

His ‘wife beating’ behaviour included throwing objects at her, slapping her across the face, kicking her, gripping her around the throat and threatening to kill her.

In periods of sobriety following Mr Depp’s destructive rages, he recognised the problems he faced, apologised to Ms Heard and blamed what he described as ‘his illness’. He referred to his drunken and violent persona as ‘the monster’.

When sober, Mr Depp was capable of kindness, charm and generosity. The side of character which he described as ‘the monster’ was jealous, controlling, violent and savage. It is these characteristics which qualify him for the term ‘wife beater’.

Depp spent an approximate 20 hours in the witness box over a five-day period, facing intense questioning about his lifestyle, his drink and drug use and the allegations of violence put against him.

Depp was also questioned about his associations with rock stars such as Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, singer-songwriter Sir Elton John and famed journalist and author Hunter S Thompson.

If you are experiencing domestic violence, please know that you are not alone. You can talk in confidence 24 hours a day to the national domestic violence helpline Refuge on 0808 2000 247.

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Julia Banim

Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.

Topics: Celebrity, Amber Heard, Johnny Depp, Legal, Now, The Sun

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The Guardian and 2 others