LONDON (AP) – A British court on Monday ruled against Johnny Depp in his libel suit against the owner of the Sun tabloid newspaper, who labeled him a “woman beater”.
Judge Andrew Nicol said the defendants had proved that what they published was “essentially true” at a high-profile trial in London over the summer with lurid – and irreconcilable – stories of Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard detailing the other of abuse. Depp’s lawyers said they would appeal the decision.
“I have found that the vast majority of Ms. Heard’s alleged attacks by Mr. Depp have been proven to civil standard,” Nicol wrote in his statement.
Depp sued News Group Newspapers, publisher of The Sun, and the newspaper’s editor-in-chief, Dan Wootton, over an April 2018 article accused of assaulting fellow actor Heard. For now, the verdict is a major blow to Depp’s reputation and finances, which could seriously damage his lucrative film career.
A Depp attorney, 57, described the decision as “perverse as baffling.”
“The verdict is so flawed that it would be ludicrous if Mr. Depp did not appeal this decision,” Jenny Afia said in a statement.
A Heard attorney, meanwhile, said the verdict was “no surprise” to anyone who followed the trial.
The Sun called the decision an “astonishing victory for freedom of the press” and said it has stood up and campaigned for victims of domestic violence for more than 20 years.
“Victims of domestic violence should never be silenced, and we thank the judge for his careful consideration and thank Amber Heard for her courage in giving testimony in court,” a spokesman for the tabloid said in a statement.
At the heart of Depp’s Sun’s characterization as a “ woman beater ” were the accusations printed that the actor had attacked Heard 14 times in locations around the world, including a “ three-day hostage situation ” that Heard said took place in Australia. while Depp was filming a movie “Pirates of the Caribbean”.
Heard, 34, said the abuse was fueled by Depp’s drug and alcohol use and that while under the influence he could turn into “the monster.” She alleged that at various times between 2013 and 2016, he hit, hit and pushed her, pulled her hair, and threw bottles at her.
Depp admitted in court that he took marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy and magic mushrooms, and became addicted to opioid painkillers. But added, “I am certainly not a violent person, especially with women.”
The judge found that there had been 12 episodes of domestic violence and dismissed Depp’s legal team allegations that Heard had “ invented a hoax. ”
“I do not accept this characterization of Ms. Heard,” wrote the judge, adding that he accepted her evidence that the allegations she made against one of the world’s most popular actors “had a negative effect on her career as an actor and activist. . “
Depp is also suing Heard for $ 50 million in Virginia over a Washington Post essay she wrote about domestic violence. The essay tells of her experience of abuse, but does not mention Depp. The trial will take place next year.
“Very soon we will be presenting even more extensive evidence in the US,” said Elaine Charlson Bredehoft, Heard’s US attorney.
Afia, who represented Depp, said that “we hope that, contrary to this case, the ongoing defamation proceedings in America are fair, with both parties providing full disclosure rather than one side strategically choosing what evidence can and cannot be trusted. . “
Depp and Heard met on the set of the 2011 comedy ‘The Rum Diary’ and were married in Los Angeles in 2015. The following year they split up and divorced in 2017.
Heard chronic acts of violence from the beginning of their relationship. Depp labeled the allegations “sick” and a “hoax” and claimed Heard was the aggressor during their relationship. He said Heard hit him and even cut off the tip of his finger with a thrown vodka bottle during an altercation in Australia while filming a “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie.
Heard insisted she spoke the truth and said she had spoken out reluctantly.
“What woman has ever benefited from being a victim of domestic violence?” she asked in court.
Lisa King, director of communications and external relations at the Refuge charity, which provides support to victims of domestic violence, expressed the hope that the statement will send “a very powerful message” that every survivor of domestic violence “should be heard and heard.”
Mark Stephens, a media attorney with Howard Kennedy law firm, called the decision “absolutely devastating” to Depp.
Johnny Depp will only be able to rehabilitate if he accepts this judgment, he added.