Johnny Depp’s libel trial against News Group Newspapers, publisher of U.K. tabloid The Sun, wrapped up in July and London’s High Court finally has a decision, The Guardian reports. After much deliberation, Depp, who sued The Sun after the publication called him a “wife-beater” in an April 2018 headline, has lost.
According to The Guardian, Justice Nicol handed down a 129-page decision, finding that 12 of the 14 incidents of domestic violence alleged by Amber Heard, Depp’s ex-wife, had occurred. “The claimant [Depp] has not succeeded in his action for libel,” he wrote, “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 found that the great majority of alleged assaults of Ms Heard by Mr Depp have been proved to the civil standard.”
Depp’s actions “have had a negative effect on [Heard’s] career as an actor and activist,” he continued. “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 defense.”
In July, Depp’s lawyers spent weeks arguing that Heard was the violent one in their marriage, not Depp, and have used testimony from Depp’s long-term employees to support an image of Depp as an “unusually kind man,” and establish Heard as a gold digger. Consequently, News Group Newspaper’s barrister Sasha Wass QC, representing The Sun, presented the court with testimony to back up Heard’s 14 accusations of abuse against Depp.
Depp’s attorneys said they plan to appeal the decision. “This decision is as perverse as it is bewildering,” his attorney Jenny Afia told the press, according to E! News. “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.”
Following the ruling, News Group Newspapers published a statement: “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.”
Depp is still waiting for a trial date on a separate U.S. suit, over a op-ed Heard wrote for the Washington Post alleging abuse, which Depp believes cost him a movie role. “For those of us present for the London high court trial, this decision and judgment are not a surprise,” Elaine Charlson Bredehoft, Heard’s U.S. lawyer said, according to Reuters, “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.”