In November, Hollywood star Johnny Depp lost the high-stake libel trial against The Sun’s publisher News Group Newspapers (NGN) and its executive editor, Dan Wootton. In a ruling delivered by Judge Justice Andrew Nicol, the court refused to provide him with any compensation for harm to his reputation at the end of one of the most widely followed trials of the 21st century. Depp had sued the British tabloid over a piece which was originally titled, “Gone Potty: How can JK Rowling be ‘genuinely happy’ casting wife beater Johnny Depp in the new Fantastic Beasts film?” Soon after, the Pirates of the Caribbean star’s lawyers remained adamant in filing an appeal, referring to the verdict as “perverse” and “bewildering”.
Justice Nicol, in his ruling mentioned that NGN had proved what was in the article was “substantially true”. However, Depp’s legal team argued that it would be “ridiculous” not to appeal. The same judge refused Depp permission to appeal later the same month, stating, “I do not consider that the proposed grounds of appeal have a reasonable prospect of success.” Now, Depp has applied directly to the court of appeal in a bid to overturn the high court ruling that he assaulted his ex-wife Amber Heard and put her in fear for her life. Nicol gave Depp until December 7, 2020, to apply directly to the court of appeal to overturn his judgment. It is unclear Depp’s grounds of appeal are, or when a decision on his application for permission to appeal will be made.
In his previous judgment, Nicol concluded that 12 of the 14 alleged incidents of domestic violence relied on by NGN did take place. Depp’s lawyer Jenny Afia, of Schillings law firm, previously said, “This decision is as perverse as it is bewildering. Most troubling is the judge’s reliance on the testimony of Amber Heard, and corresponding disregard of the mountain of counter-evidence from police officers, medical practitioners, her own former assistant, other unchallenged witnesses and an array of documentary evidence which completely undermined the allegations, point by point. All of this was overlooked. The judgment is so flawed that it would be ridiculous for Mr Depp not to appeal this decision.” She then brought to light a separate hearing scheduled to be held in the US in 2021 in which Depp has brought a $50m (£39m) defamation case against Heard over an opinion piece she wrote in The Washington Post in December 2018.