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Johnny Depp loses libel case against The Sun newspaper

Johnny Depp has lost his libel case against the Sun newspaper over an article that called him a “wife beater”.

Mr Depp, 57, sued the paper after it claimed he assaulted his ex-wife Amber Heard, which he denies. The Sun said the article was accurate.

Judge Mr Justice Nicol said the Sun had proved what was in the article to be “substantially true”.

A spokesperson for the Sun thanked Ms Heard for “her courage”.

The trial was heard over 16 days in July at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.

In a statement, Ms Heard’s lawyer 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.”

Speaking outside court on the last day of the trial in July, Ms Heard said the case had been “incredibly painful” and she just wants to “move on her with her life”.

The allegations of violence spanned the period between 2013 and 2016, when the couple split.

One of the incidents, in Australia in 2015, was described by Ms Heard as a “three-day hostage situation” in which Mr Depp was allegedly physically and verbally abusive while drinking heavily and taking drugs.

The judge said: “I have found that the great majority of alleged assaults of Ms Heard by Mr Depp have been proved to the civil standard.”

He said that “a recurring theme in Mr Depp’s evidence was that Ms Heard had constructed a hoax and that she had done this as an ‘insurance policy’,” and that Ms Heard was a “gold-digger”.

But he added: “I do not accept this characterisation of Ms Heard.”

Johnny Depp leaves the Royal Courts of Justice, Strand on July 28, 2020 in London, England
Mr Depp spent around 20 hours in the witness box (Getty Images)

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.”

‘No excuse for domestic abuse’

A spokesperson for the Sun said: “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.”

Mr Depp’s case was brought against News Group Newspapers (NGN) – publisher of the Sun – and executive editor Dan Wootton over an article published on the Sun’s website on 27 April 2018.

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

The Sun's executive editor Dan Wootton in 2017
Mr Depp sued Dan Wootton, pictured, and the Sun’s publisher (Getty Images)

Evidence was heard from both Mr Depp and actress Ms Heard, 34, along with friends and relatives of the ex-couple, and several former and current employees.

Mr Depp’s lawyer David Sherborne said his client’s case was about “clearing his name”.

In its defence, the Sun’s publisher said Mr Depp was “controlling and verbally and physically abusive towards Heard, particularly when he was under the influence of alcohol and / or drugs” between early 2013 and May 2016, when the couple split.

The lawyer for the Sun’s publisher, Sasha Wass QC, argued there is “no doubt that Mr Depp regularly and systematically abused his wife. The characterisation that he is a wife-beater is entirely truthful”.

Source: BBC

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