Johnny Depp today lost his sensational £2million libel battle against his ex-wife Amber Heard and The Sun newspaper.
Following a 16-day trial London’s High Court found the Hollywood star is a wife beater and had hit Heard 12 times during their turbulent relationship.
Jubilant Heard said she was ‘relieved’, but ‘not surprised’ at her stunning victory in which the judge found she had been hit by the Pirates of the Caribbean during their stormy marriage.
But Depp’s lawyers blasted the judge, saying, calling the ruling ‘as perverse as it is bewildering’.
In a statement, the actor’s lawyers Schillings said: ‘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. All of this was overlooked.
‘The judgment is so flawed that it would be ridiculous for Mr Depp not to appeal this decision.’
The result leaves the 57-year-old Pirates of the Caribbean actor facing financial ruin with his reputation in tatters. Although neither party comes out of the tawdry spectacle completely untarnished as the court was told of allegations of drug-taking and infidelity on both sides.
Depp sued the Sun’s publisher, News Group Newspapers (NGN), and its executive editor, Dan Wootton, over an article published in the Sun in April 2018 that originally carried the headline ‘Gone Potty: How can JK Rowling be ‘genuinely happy’ casting wife beater Johnny Deppin the new Fantastic Beasts film?’
Heard, 34, who was the newspaper’s chief witness, tearfully told the court of 14 occasions during their toxic relationship when he assaulted her, providing graphic details of his drink and drugs-fuelled attacks.
Mr Justice Nicol threw out the fallen actor’s claim, saying the publisher had proved what was in the article to be ‘substantially true’.
The judge concluded Depp beat Heard 12 out of the 14 times she had claimed, beginning in 2013 when he slapped the actress across the face when she made a comment about his tattoo.
He dismissed two allegations made by Heard in 2014 and 2015 but said he couldn’t conclude she had been untruthful about it.
In dismissing Depp’s claims, the judge said: ‘The claimant has not succeeded in his action for libel.
‘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 overarching considerations which the claimant submitted I should take into account.’
Johnny Depp (right), 57, today lost his bitter High Court fight with Amber Heard (left) and The Sun newspaper. The court found Depp was ‘wife beater’ following a sensational 16-day trial which lifted the lid on the fallen Hollywood icon’s chaotic lifestyle
Heard, pictured arriving at London’s High Court with her girlfriend Bianca Butti (right), told the court of 14 occasions when Depp had been violent towards her during their turbulent time together after meeting in 2009 on the set of The Run Diary
Heard looked happy and relaxed this morning as she was pictured in Los Angeles taking her dog for a walk before the verdict
THE 14 TIMES AMBER HEARD SAID JOHNNY DEPP ATTACKED HER
1. Early 2013
Heard says Depp was completely sober until early 2013, and around that time he allegedly hit her for the first time when they were in Los Angeles.
She claims Depp later cried and apologised, telling her that he sometimes turns into ‘the monster’ when he snaps.
Depp has ‘expressly denied’ hitting Heard and said that, around early 2013, he had ‘confined himself to drinking wine and using marijuana, having been sober from around December 2011 to August 2012’.
2. March 8, 2013
Heard claims Depp was angry she had hung up a painting by her ex-partner Tasya Van Ree by her bed in her LA home, then tried to set the painting on fire and hit her ‘so hard that blood from her lip ended up on the wall’.
Depp, however, says he simply asked Heard to move the painting from the bedroom ‘as a courtesy’ and that she had an ‘extreme reaction’.
He also says a text he later sent describing the evening as a ‘disco bloodbath’ was to ‘placate Ms Heard’ and not an apology for alleged violence.
3. June 2013
Heard and Depp were in Hicksville, US with a group of people including Heard’s sister Whitney and Depp’s assistant Nathan Holmes.
Heard says Depp, who was ‘taking drugs’, became ‘enraged’ and ‘jealous’ when one of her friends touched her, and he then threw glasses at her, ripped her dress and damaged the cabin they were staying in.
Depp says he drank and took magic mushrooms, as did Heard and her friends who also took MDMA.
He claims Heard’s friend touched Heard in an ‘extremely sexual manner’ and he spoke to her to ask her to stop.
4. May 24, 2014
The pair took a private plan from Boston to LA: Heard says that during the flight Depp, who had been drinking heavily, threw objects at her, pushed a chair at her, slapped her and kicked her in the back before passing out in the toilet.
Depp says Heard ‘began to harangue him’ as he was sketching in a notebook, he then tried to ‘playfully tap her on the bottom with his foot’, at which Heard took ‘great offence’ and ‘continued to verbally berate’ him.
5. August 17, 2014
The couple went to the Bahamas, Depp says to ‘cure his dependence on painkillers’, although Heard claims he was trying to give up other drugs too.
Heard says Depp had ‘several manic episodes’ and his private doctor had to be flown over to help. She alleges that he slapped, kicked and grabbed by the hair during an attack.
Depp alleges Heard stopped a nurse from giving him treatment while he was going through withdrawal.
6. December 17, 2014
Heard says Depp was ‘violent towards’ her in LA, and later texted calling himself a ‘f****** savage’ and a ‘lunatic’. Depp denies any allegation of violence and says NGN has ‘failed to provide any particulars of the alleged violence’.
7. January 25, 2015
While the couple were in Tokyo, Japan, Heard claims Depp shoved and slapped her and grabbed her by the hair, before standing over her and shouting while she was on the floor – which Mr Depp denies.
8. Around March 3-5, 2015
Depp is said to have repeatedly assaulted Heard after an argument over his alleged use of MDMA during a three-day trip to Australia. She says he stayed up all night, taking pills and drinking, and then attacked her again the next morning.
Heard says, the following night, Depp pushed her into a table tennis table, tore off her nightgown and attacked her, before smashing a telephone into a wall and severing the top of his middle finger.
She also claims he had written messages to her around the house in a mixture of paint and blood from his finger, which Depp admits doing while ‘in shock’, as well as having ‘urinated all over the house in an attempt to write messages’, which he denies.
Depp says Heard was in ‘a prolonged and extreme rage’ following an argument over a post-nuptial agreement. He says he then ‘broke my sobriety’ with several glass of vodka, before Heard threw a bottle at him, severing the top of his finger, and stubbed a cigarette out on his cheek.
9. March 2015
Heard says Depp became ‘enraged’ when they were in LA with her sister and began destroying things in the house before hitting her ‘hard and repeatedly’. She also claims he tried to push her sister down the stairs before hitting Heard again.
Depp, however, says Heard was ‘berating him in a rage’ as he tried to leave, threw a can of Red Bull at him and punched him in the face before he finally left.
10. August 2015
While they were on the Eastern and Oriental Express in south east Asia, Heard alleges Depp ‘picked a fight’ with her, hit her and pushed her against a wall by the throat, ‘causing her to fear for her life’ – which is denied by Depp.
11. November 26, 2015
In LA, Depp is alleged to have ripped Heard’s shirt and ‘threw her around the room’, also throwing a wine glass and a ‘heavy glass decanter’ at her, as well as pushing her over a chair which caused her to bang her head against a wall. Depp says they were in LA for Thanksgiving, but denies any allegation of abuse.
12. December 15, 2015
Heard claims Depp threw a decanter at her in their penthouse in LA, then slapped her and dragged her through the apartment by her hair, allegedly pulling ‘large chunks of hair’ from Heard’s scalp.
She says he then followed her upstairs and pushed her to the floor while shouting ‘you think you’re a f****** tough guy’ before headbutting her.
Heard says that when she told Depp she wanted to leave him he grabbed her and screamed: ‘I f****** will kill you – I’ll f****** kill you, you hear me?’
Depp, though, says ‘Ms Heard fabricated the alleged violence’, falsely claiming that ‘blonde hair on the floor was her hair’.
He also claims that ‘the only violence committed on that date was by Ms Heard’, who allegedly ‘violently attacked’ him.
13. April 21, 2016
Heard says Depp arrived at her birthday party at their LA home late, ‘drunk and high on drugs’ and they had an argument after the guests had left.
She claims he threw a bottle of champagne at her and shoved her to the floor several times before leaving a note reading: ‘Happy F****** Birthday.’
Depp says he arrived at the party around two hours late following a meeting with his new business manager and accountants, and that he was not on drugs but ‘shocked from what he had learnt at the meeting about his business affairs’.
He claims Heard had been ‘drinking heavily’ and attacked him while he was reading in bed, punching him in the face four times before he grabbed her arms to stop her.
Depp says the next day Heard or one of her friends ‘defecated in Mr Depp’s and Ms Heard’s bed’, and that Heard later told the building manager Kevin Murphy that it was ‘just a harmless prank’ – at which he point he ‘then resolved to divorce Ms Heard’.
14. May 21, 2016
Depp arrived at their LA apartment, allegedly ‘drunk and high’ while Heard was there with friends.
Heard said Depp became ‘very angry’, throwing her phone at her and hitting her in the eye before smashing ‘everything he could’ with a magnum of champagne.
He says he went to the apartment with two security guards to collect his belongings after Heard and her sister ‘repeatedly’ tried to contact him.
Depp claims his two security guards entered the room when they heard Heard shouting, and saw her ‘repeatedly screaming, ‘stop hitting me, Johnny” while he was 20 feet away in the kitchen.
He also says that two police officers who attended the apartment after the incident ‘saw no injuries or bruising or swelling’.
Heard’s legal team are now looking ahead to a second, $50million libel suit in the US in May where Depp is suing Heard over a column she wrote on being the victim of domestic violence in the Washington Post.
‘For those of us present for the London High Court trial, this decision and Judgment are not a surprise,’ they said in a statement.
‘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.’
A spokesperson for the newspaper said: ‘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.’
The defeat leaves Depp, who told the court he had lost $650million through financial mismanagement at the height of his Pirates of the Caribbean fame, facing legal fees of £2million – with his costs estimated to be £1m and The Sun’s costs believed to be the same.
Meanwhile PR experts today warned the star faces an uphill battle to restore his battered reputation.
Mark Borkowski said for the star to resume his career would be the equivalent of ‘climbing Mt Everest without oxygen, barefoot and in his underpants’.
He said: ‘His reputation is in tatters. Having lost this libel case he will always be known as a wife beater. Whenever he is interviewed by a journalist, he will be asked about this and if he is a wife beater.
‘It does not get any worse for him. Hollywood is very corporate and risk adverse with its money. Those making film franchises will not want to take the risk. This is a personal disaster for him. For him to come back will be the equivalent of climbing Mt Everest without oxygen, in his underpants and barefoot. That’s how hard it will be.’
Borkowski, who clients include Noel Edmunds and Led Zepplin star Jimmy Plant, said Depp’s one hope was his huge worldwide fan base who will support him despite the verdict in the High Court.
‘Don’t write him off just yet. He is still very popular, so I would never say never that he will come back. He has a huge fan base who will still support him.’
The case has divided Depp and Heard fans, with the hashtag JusticeForJohnnyDepp trending on Twitter with supporters of the Hollywood icon claiming he had suffered a miscarriage of justice, while describing him as a survivor of ‘domestic violence.’
One passionate fan posted: ‘Proud of Johnny Depp standing strong against all the abusers, the corruption and the lies.’
Another fumed: ‘Despite the risks, Johnny Depp told the truth on the stand….Amber Heard lied unashamedly.’
One die-hard Depp fan fumed: ‘I’m so furious. My body doesn’t know how to react. The evidence was CRYSTAL CLEAR. The truth means nothing.’
While Depp’s fans dominated social media with their outbursts, Heard’s supporters were also making themselves heard.
One posted: ‘I, for one am happy for Amber Herd, after all she’s been through.’
Another said: ‘Justice is served, I just feel sad that Amber has to relive the trauma.’
During the dramatic three-week trial, fans were given a rare glimpse into the troubled life of one of Hollywood’s most flamboyant A-list couples as it heard a series of astonishing claims:
- Depp admitting to taking large amounts of cocaine, which he insisted ‘brought him to a normal level,’ and drinking more than ‘normal’ people could;
- Heard was accused of defecating in their marital bed;
- Heard was accused of having an affair with Tesla billionaire Elon Musk, which she denied, and that Depp threatened to cut his penis off;
- Depp lost a staggering $650 million (£502,000) he made at the height of his Pirates of the Caribbean fame and was left owing $100m (£77,000) in taxes;
- Depp admitted to spending $30,000 (£23,000) on red wine each month;
- Depp ‘attacked’ Heard over three days in Australia while on a drugs and booze bender;
Depp denied all the allegations, claiming all the Aquaman actress’s claims were a ‘hoax’ – and accused her of attacking him.
Depp’s description of his ex-wife as a ‘gold-digger’, was also thrown out by the judge, saying: ‘I do not accept this characterisation of Ms Heard.’
Both Depp and Heard gave evidence in what was dubbed ‘the libel trial of the century’ as the two traded accusations over who perpetrated the domestic violence during their stormy relationship.
They met on the set of ‘The Rum Diary,’ in 2009, married in February 2015 with Depp filing for divorce in May 2016.
The trial captivated the world’s attention amid stunning details about Depp’s drink and drugs binges, his huge spending and fragile finances and the couple’s jet-set life and toxic relationship relationship.
The High Court verdict is being seen as just a ‘first round’ victory for Heard with other legal battles looming against her ex-husband. Depp is also suing Heard for US$50 million (£39million) in a trial set to take place in the US next May after she wrote about being a domestic abuse survivor in a Washington Post article.
Heard is counter-suing him for an astonishing $100 million (£78million) saying that the fallen actor and his legal team have mounted a global smear campaign against her.
After meeting on the set of ‘The Rum Diary,’ in 2009, the couple married in February 2015, but their relationship rapidly deteriorated in the turbulent 15 months that followed – with their marital problems laid bare during the three-week court hearing.
Amid the claim and counter claim on both sides these were the key incidents between the warring pair:
THE DEFECATION INCIDENT
This came to be known as ‘poo-gate,’ and took place in Los Angeles in April 2016 during Heard’s 30th birthday party.
Depp told the court that he arrived two hours late, after receiving some bad news about his financial losses and that a row broke out between him and Heard.
She told that court that her ex-husband threw a magnum champagne bottle at her and shoved her to the floor several times before leaving a note reading ‘Happy F***ing Birthday’.
The next day, Depp alleged that he had been informed that Heard had defecated in their marital bed and told the building manager that it was ‘just a harmless prank.
He admitted in court that at first, he laughed about the incident, referring to his ex-wife as ‘Amber Turd,’ but it was around this point that he decided to divorce her and moved out of their penthouse.
Heard blamed their small dog Boo for the faeces and told the court that she would never do something so ‘absolutely disgusting.’
She claimed the dog had a problem with messing itself ‘since the weed’- claiming Boo ate a bag of Depp’s cannabis as a puppy.
The judge said today that Amber did not poo in the bed, saying it was more likely to have been one of the couple’s dogs.
THE PHONE THROWING INCIDENT
A month later in May 2016 Depp told the court that he returned to the penthouse to collect his belongings with his private security guards Jerry Judge and Sean Betts.
Heard said Depp became ‘very angry’, throwing her phone at her and hitting her in the eye before smashing ‘everything he could’ with a magnum of champagne after they started rowing over the defecation incident.
Depp claimed his two security guards entered the room when they heard Heard shouting, and saw her ‘repeatedly screaming, ‘stop hitting me, Johnny” while he was 20 feet away in the kitchen.
He also says that two police officers who attended the apartment after the incident ‘saw no injuries or bruising or swelling’.
Both officers also gave evidence via video link and claimed that they did not see Heard with any injuries.
THE ‘SEVERED FINGER’ INCIDENT
Depp was accused of repeatedly assaulting Heard after an argument over his use of MDMA during a three-day trip to Australia, while he was filming Pirates of the Caribbean.
She told the court that he stayed up all night, taking pills and drinking, and then attacked her again the next morning.
The following night, he pushed her into a table tennis table, tore off her nightgown and attacked her, before smashing a telephone into a wall and severing the top of his middle finger.
The court was shown photographs of a mansion they were staying in, which Heard claimed Depp daubed with graffiti using his blood and smashed up parts of it up.
She claims he wrote messages to her around the house in a mixture of paint and blood from his finger – which Mr Depp admitted doing while ‘in shock’ – as well as having ‘urinated all over the house in an attempt to write messages.’
Depp claimed that it was Heard who was violent, throwing a bottle at him which severed the top of his finer and stubbing a cigarette out on his cheek, resulting in him being taken to hospital.
THE LATE LATE SHOW
The High Court was also played excerpts of Heard’s appearance on The Late, Late Show with James Corden in December 2015.
Twenty-four before it she claimed that Depp slapped her, dragged her by the hair through their apartment – pulling clumps of her hair out – and then repeatedly punched her in the head, leaving her with ‘tons of injuries’ including bruised ribs and arms, bruises all over her body, two black eyes, a broken nose and a broken lip.
When asked by Depp’s lawyer Eleanor Laws QC why none of the injuries to her face were visible when she appeared on live television, Heard replied that she had covered them up with makeup.
THE PLANE INCIDENT
Depp and Heard took a private plane from Boston to LA. She claimed that during that time he was drinking heavily, threw objects at her, pushed a chair at her, slapped her and kicked her in the back before passing out in the toilet.
Depp says Heard ‘began to harangue him’ as he was sketching in a notebook, he then tried to ‘playfully tap her on the bottom with his foot’, at which Miss Heard took ‘great offence’ and continued to verbally berate him.
The court was also played an audio recording taken during the incident. During the 18-second clip a woman’s voice can be heard saying ‘keep an eye on him,’ while what sounds like a man makes long, low moans.
While giving evidence, Depp did not confirm that it was him but admitted that he could not remember anybody else making that noise on the plane.
He described the noise as sounding ‘like an animal in pain,’ to which Sasha Wass QC, the Sun’s lawyer responded: ‘I think you are that animal.’
‘DISCO BLOODBATH’ INCIDENT
The court was also shown photographs of Heard’s trashed LA home taken in March 2013. She claimed that the actor became angry and jealous when she had hung a painting, by her ex-partner Tasya Van Ree, by her bed.
Depp was also accused of trying to set it on fire and hitting Heard so hard that blood from her lip ended up on the wall.
Depp maintained that he simply asked Heard to move the painting from the bedroom ‘as a courtesy’ and that she had an ‘extreme reaction’.
He also says a text he sent later, describing the evening as a ‘disco bloodbath’, was designed to placate Heard and not an apology for alleged violence.
AUSTRALIA DOG SMUGGLING INCIDENT
Heard was accused of forcing two of Depp’s staff to lie about their two dogs being taken to Australia in April 2015, despite them repeatedly telling her that it was not legal for them to be taken.
Kevin Murphy, who worked for the Pirates of the Caribbean star for almost eight years, alleged that Heard had ‘demanded’ he make a false statement about the animals being ‘smuggled’ into the country.
He also alleged in a statement that she had asked him to contact her former assistant Kate James and ask her to lie under oath to an Australian court.
In October 2015 Heard faced criminal proceedings in Australia for taking the couple’s two Yorkshire terriers, Pistol and Boo, into the country illegally.
She and Depp recorded a now-famous video in 2016 apologising for doing so.
Murphy claim that he was put ‘under pressure’ by Heard for making a false statement, which he later retracted once she and Depp split.
During the trial Heard showed bruises she claimed were inflicted by Depp as he allegedly smashed her iPhone in her face at her LA home in May 2016 – a month after Depp claimed Heard ‘defecated’ in their marital bed after her 30th birthday
Heard’s team showed the court photos of a separate incident showing bruising to her face after Depp allegedly headbutted her. The trial heard evidence about 14 altercations from their time together. The court believed Heard that he did hit her
Depp severed the top of his finger (pictured) when he smashed a vodka bottle during a row with Heard over his drug-taking while he was in Australia in March 2015 filming Pirates of the Caribbean
After slicing off the top of his finger, Depp went to the bathroom at the mansion in Melbourne they were renting – and wrote I love you in his blood on the mirror. He also daubed other graffiti on the mirror during his drug-fuelled rage