Johnny Depp loses libel action in case against U.K. tabloid

LONDON — Hollywood star Johnny Depp on Monday lost his libel case against British tabloid The Sun after it described him as a “wife beater.”

Depp, 57, took legal action against News Group Newspapers, which publishes The Sun, and one of its journalists, Dan Wootton, over a 2018 article that stated he had been violent toward his ex-wife, actress Amber Heard.

Both Depp and Heard, 34, gave evidence during a three-week hearing at London’s High Court in July, laying bare the details of their private lives. Both attended the trial.

The couple met in 2011 and were married in February 2015. But Heard filed for divorce after just 15 months, and days later obtained a restraining order against him, the court was told.

July 28, 202001:49

In his written judgement, Justice Andrew Nicol wrote that News Group Newspapers and Wootton “have shown that what they published … was substantially true.”

During the hearings, the Sun’s lawyers had told the court they had shown Depp had beaten Heard during violent rages brought on by alcohol or drugs. They said he assaulted Heard on at least 14 occasions between 2013-16.

Depp told the court he was never violent towards his ex-wife, and instead insisted that she had regularly attacked him. He told the court that he lost the tip of a finger after she threw a vodka bottle at him during an argument.

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Depp’s lawyer David Sherborne argued Heard was a “wholly unreliable witness” and a compulsive liar.

His former long-term partner Vanessa Paradis and his ex-girlfriend actress Winona Ryder gave witness statements saying he was never violent toward them.

The actor’s legal team argued The Sun article caused serious harm to his reputation and Depp should be “entitled to very substantial damages.”

They said in practice there was a ceiling on general damages of between 300,000 and 325,000 pounds ($391,000-$423,600), but argued Depp should also receive aggravated damages, saying The Sun’s response to his claim had added to the “harm, distress and need for vindication.”

Last year, Depp also filed a $50 million lawsuit against Heard for defaming him in a 2018 opinion piece she wrote for The Washington Post.

The hearing revealed several headline-grabbing details about the private life of one of Hollywood’s biggest stars.

Heard said in written testimony that Depp “explicitly threatened to kill [her] many times,” and that he subjected her to “punching, slapping, kicking, head-butting and choking” during their time together.

Reuters contributed to this report.