Johnny Depp has lost his libel case against the U.K. Sun newspaper over an article that called him a “wife beater.”
Depp, 57, took action in the High Court against the morning tabloid after it alleged he assaulted his ex-wife Amber Heard, 57, which he denies.
The claim appeared in a 2018 article with the headline: ‘Gone Potty: How can JK Rowling be ‘genuinely happy’ casting wife beater Johnny Deppin the new Fantastic Beasts film?’
The Sun said the article was accurate.
Judge Mr. Justice Nicol agreed. He said the Sun had proved what was in the article to be “substantially true.”
The trial was heard over 16 days in July at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, as Breitbart news reported. 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 I should take into account.
In a statement, Heard’s lawyer in the U.S. responded: “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 U.S.
“We are committed to obtaining justice for Amber Heard in the U.S. Court and defending Ms Heard’s right to free speech.”
The two actors met on the set of the 2011 comedy “The Rum Diary” and married in Los Angeles in February 2015. Heard, a model and actress, filed for divorce the following year, and the divorce was finalized in 2017.
AP reports the decision is a big blow personally, and financially, to Depp.
“The reputations of both Johnny Depp and Amber Heard are tarnished irrevocably,” said Mark Stephens, a media lawyer at the law firm Howard Kennedy, ahead of the verdict.
“I think that it’s going to persist, because whoever wins in this case, the way in which this case was presented, the issues that came up, particularly around gendered presentation of the case, I think that’s going to be studied for years to come.”
The Pirates of the Caribbean star is also suing Heard for $50 million in Virginia over a Washington Post story about domestic violence. The trial is due to be held next year.