Yesterday proved to be a heartbreaking one for Hollywood heartthrob Johnny Depp’s fans around the world. As the superstar lost the high-stake libel trial against The Sun’s publisher News Group Newspapers (NGN) and its executive editor, Dan Wootton, 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?” Now, the Pirates of the Caribbean star’s lawyers are adamant on filing an appeal, referring to the verdict as “perverse” and “bewildering”.
Depp’s legal team added that it would be “ridiculous” not to appeal. Jenny Afia, of Schillings law firm, 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.”
Afia 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. “In the meantime, we hope that in contrast to this case, the ongoing libel proceedings in America are equitable, with both parties providing full disclosure rather than one side strategically cherry picking what evidence can and cannot be relied upon,” she added. Earlier this week, Judge Justice Nicol dismissed Depp’s claims, saying NGN had proved what was in the article to be “substantially true”. His statement read, “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.