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Johnny Depp loses libel case against The Sun after claim he beat and abused ex-wife Amber Heard

Emma Powys Maurice November 2, 2020
Johnny Depp

A High Court judge has ruled against Johnny Depp in his libel case against The Sun (Valeriano Di Domenico/Getty/ZFF)

Johnny Depp has lost his High Court libel case against The Sun newspaper over a 2018 article which labelled him a “wife-beater”.

After a high profile three-week trial against the tabloid and its executive editor Dan Wootton, Depp was unable to convince the High Court he was not violent towards his ex-wife, Amber Heard.

The Fantastic Beasts actor strenuously denied claims he was violent towards Heard in any way and sued the paper for damage to his reputation. However, judge justice Nicol ruled that the The Sun was was able to prove what they reported was true on the balance of probabilities.

“[Depp] has not succeeded in his action for libel,” the judge wrote in his 180-page ruling.

“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.

“It has not been necessary to consider the fairness of the article or the defendants’ ‘malice’ because those are immaterial to the statutory defence of truth.”

Johnny Depp libel case ruling vindicates Amber Heard.

The Sun held the burden of proof in the case, and based its defence on 14 separate allegations of domestic violence dated between early 2013 and May 2016, which were combed through in forensic detail before the court.

The judge found that “the great majority” of the actor’s alleged assaults were provably true, vindicating claims by Amber Heard that Johnny Depp attacked her when the “monster” side of his personality was dominant.

He said he did not accept Depp’s characterisation of Heard as “nothing more than a gold digger”, and that she had constructed a hoax as an “insurance policy” in the event that the marriage broke down.

“Overall, I conclude that Mr Depp did assault Ms Heard as she and the defendants have alleged,” justice Nicol said.

Depp’s lawyers had argued that various factors – including his presentation in the article alongside Harvey Weinstein – meant that “only a very substantial award” would compensate and vindicate him. However, the court refused to award Johnny Depp any compensation for damage to his reputation.

The long-awaited ruling came after one of the most widely-followed libel trials of the century, and draws further attention to the controversial casting of Depp in JK Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts film franchise.

The Sun article that triggered the lawsuit bore the headline: “Gone Potty: How can JK Rowling be ‘genuinely happy’ casting wife beater Johnny Depp in the new Fantastic Beasts film?”

More: Amber Heard, Dan Wootton, Fantastic Beasts, JK Rowling, Johnny Depp, libel, The Sun

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