Johnny Depp Loses Libel Suit Against UK Tabloid The Sun, Which Called Him a 'Wife Beater'

Illustration for article titled Johnny Depp Loses Libel Suit Against UK Tabloid The Sun, Which Called Him a 'Wife Beater'
Image: Andreas Rentz (Getty Images)

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.”

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Mortal Dictata

Won’t be long until new and long-dormant accounts come out to claim how Heard lied, judge is bought etc etc as his fans on twitter have been doing since 10am (when earlier they’d been celebrating what would be an easy win for him).

Full ruling is here if you want to read it but essentially he was found, in the court case he demanded, to the required standard of balance of probabilities (with the higher threshold because of the seriousness of the claims) to have:

1. Assaulted Heard for mocking his tattoos.
2. Assaulted Heard for having a painting from an ex.
3. Assaulted Heard in a trailer.
4. Assaulted Heard on the plane.
5. Assaulted Heard while she was trying to help him detox in the Bahamas.
6. Assaulted Heard during a stay in Tokyo.
7. Assaulted Heard during the stay in Australia, also having done what is alleged in a sealed confidential docket, and that his much publicised finger wounds were self-inflicted.
8. Assaulted Heard on the stairs, during which time Heard hit him in self-defence.
9. Assaulted Heard on the train in SE Asia.
10. Assaulted Heard prior to the Late Late Show.
11. Assaulted Heard during the birthday, Heard didn’t abuse him as claimed, and that it was the dog that shat the bed (judge clearly annoyed at that being repeatedly raised in the courtroom).
12. Assaulted Heard in LA in 2016, also heavily criticises the LAPD for having no notes of incident and lying about the time they were there.

Commanilty noted in these claims were his jealously, anger issues, and problems with drink and drugs.

The only two incidents that didn’t pass the probabilities also note that the judge is careful with the language, with the allegation in LA of 2014 not found due to a lack of specificity in what was claimed to have happened and therefore could’ve just been a charged verbal incident that Depp was apologising for and the allegation in LA of 2015 was “not proven” as Depp hadn’t been cross-examined on it.

So again, this was a case Depp called for in the UK because it’s easier to win here, when previously it was perceived by many (inc. myself I will admit) as allegations both ways and that both sounded similarly abusive, and now it’s gone to material trial and fell apart almost immediately as his case was made up of substantial contradictions, falsehoods, and just about zero impartial witnesses while Heard’s account was backed up.

Also tied to this of course is JK Rowling and her supporters in the anti-trans movement in the UK as they tied themselves to Depp, defending his continued material reward by Rowling with jobs due to believing his story. Their supposed worries over women being abused by men as a reason to block GRA reform completely falls apart if such a high-profile abuser is continued to not only be protected by them but also Rowling continuing to defend him playing one of her roles that is paying him millions of dollars in income after the High Court just found him to have systemically beaten his now ex-wife.

It’s just a shame that The Sun is going to use this to cover their many sins, including giving positive press coverage to abusers in the past.

tl;dr you now have the ability to say or print “Johnny Depp is a Wife Beater” sure in the knowledge he is one.