Today was destined to be a big day for Hollywood star Johnny Depp in his long-standing feud with the publishers of The Sun over an article which referred to him as a “wife beater”. Following a three-week trial at London’s High Court, Judge Andrew Nicol shared last week that the court would deliver its ruling on November 2 in the Pirates of the Caribbean star’s libel action against the British newspaper, a decision which could have a lasting impact on the veteran actor’s career. In breaking news, the court has now ruled that the tabloid was justified in reporting that Depp was violent towards ex-wife Amber Heard on at least one occasion during their relationship.
While Depp has now lost his high-stakes libel action in the London courts against the News Group Newspapers (NGN) and its executive editor, Dan Wootton, the court has refused to provide him with any compensation for damage to his reputation at the end of one of the most widely followed libel trials in today’s time. In his ruling, Judge Justice Nicol, said, “The claimant [Depp] has not succeeded in his action for libel. The defendants [the Sun and News Group Newspapers] 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 overarching considerations which the claimant submitted, I should take into account. In those circumstances, parliament has said that a defendant has a complete defence.”
He said the “natural and ordinary meaning” of the article was that the actor “was guilty, on overwhelming evidence, of serious domestic violence against his then wife, causing significant injury and leading to her fearing for her life”. The long-awaited decision was published online at 10am on Monday more than three months after the high court hearing finished in late July. Depp had sued NGN 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?” Following a whopping win, NGN issued a statement saying, “The Sun has stood up and campaigned for the victims of domestic abuse for over 20 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.”
Heard’s counsel shared that the verdict was not a surprise by any means. Elaine Charlson Bredehoft, the US lawyer representing Heard in her forthcoming defamation case on similar grounds in the US, said, “For those of us present for the London high court trial, this decision and judgment are not a surprise. Very soon, we will be presenting even more voluminous evidence in the US. We are committed to obtaining justice for Amber Heard in the US court and defending Ms Heard’s right to free speech.”
Back when Depp sued NGN, the paper’s lawyers said they would show the claim was true and that he had beaten Heard while being intoxicated on alcohol and drugs, eventually causing her to leave him. “For the avoidance of any doubt, I have never abused Ms Heard, or, indeed, any other woman, in my life,” Depp retorted in a following statement in which he characterised his ex-wife as a “calculating, emotionally dishonest narcissist”. Heard was also present at the London High Court during the high-profile three-week trial. The 34-year-old model’s ex assistant Kate James previously accused her of stealing her experience of being a victim of sexual violence and making it into her own story. She claimed to have received multiple drunken, abusive and disjointed text messages from Heard. In her second witness statement to the court, James alleged she had been the victim of rape in Brazil when she was in her twenties and that the experience had “haunted” her ever since. “To my utter shock and dismay, I discovered that Ms Heard had in fact stolen my sexual violence conversation with her and twisted it into her own story to benefit herself. This of course caused me extreme distress and outrage that she would dare to attempt to use the most harrowing experience of my life as her own narrative.”
James informed the court that whilst she had been summoned to provide proof, she was doing so because she is “a sexual violence survivor and it’s a very serious to take that stance if you are not one”.
Calling out Heard over her drinking habits, James mentioned, “Amber would drink vast quantities of red wine each night.” James finished off by saying Heard was “probably the least known person” she had been employed by in Hollywood. Now, the hashtag #JusticeforJohnnyDepp has been trending on Twitter. However, some others have been lauding Heard for her courage. Here are some social media reactions from today’s ruling:
This is so so disturbing. She admits to starting physical fights. Then she gaslights him, says she's getting demoralized when he leaves the room whenever she starts physically fighting.
— Mahwash Ajaz 🇵🇰 (@mahwashajaz_) November 2, 2020
— Aaaaaa (@Amber010103) November 2, 2020
Johnny Depp in 2018 depo about when his abuser Amber Heard cut his finger off
‘I was trying to get the finger back, you know. And then deal with the insanity of having had my finger chopped off by this woman that I was married to.’ #JusticeForJohnnyDepp pic.twitter.com/RL63Ki3ICO
— Support Johnny Depp (@MyGrindelwald) November 2, 2020
Johnny Depp not winning this case against the sun just goes to prove that:
1. The Sun is a piece of trash newspaper and no one should waste their money on it
2. Men’s mental health really doesn’t matter to anyone in high authority
3. Amber Heard is a piece of shit
— lou (@notttheimpostor) November 2, 2020
The world's mindset is obviiusly still not ready to accept #AbuseHasNoGender A woman said so – it is the truth. I stand with Johnny Depp. And I always will.
— Anika K. (@AnnikaCubist) November 2, 2020
We are all insanely proud of Johnny Depp for everything he has done. He has also spoken out for victims of domestic violence. He has been so strong throughout of this. We all believe in Johnny Depp. #JusticeForJohnnyDepp
— 𝕵𝖔𝖍𝖓𝖓𝖞 𝕯𝖊𝖕𝖕 𝕴𝖘 𝕴𝖓𝖓𝖔𝖈𝖊𝖓𝖙 (@TheDeppFan) November 2, 2020
— Ludji Andrade (@AndradeLudji) November 2, 2020
— Quantumcat76 (@QuantumCat76) November 2, 2020
Amber Heard deserve to be in jail. Johnny depp is always innocent ! #JusticeForJohnnyDepp
— James Weller De Regaz (@MrWellerDeRegaz) November 2, 2020
— 𝒅𝒆𝒑𝒑’𝒆𝒏𝒅𝒂𝒏𝒕𝒆 (@8h44_) November 2, 2020
Absolutely gutted about the Johnny Depp trial. The truth was all laid out. In clear sight, yet justice was not served. But I'm sure it will in due time. Gonna be patient w this one. What goes around comes around just saying Amberrr
— unknxwne🌼 (@unknxwne137) November 2, 2020
https://t.co/KpU7cFDKk2 hopefully y’all misogynists will stop defending wife-beater Johnny Depp. Amber Heard is super courageous!
— Sideways (@dcsideways) November 2, 2020