Johnny Depp’s Libel Suit Against Amber Heard Allowed to Proceed Despite UK Ruling

Judge notes in ruling that “libel laws of Virginia are starkly different than those of England”

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Johnny Depp’s libel suit against Amber Heard will be allowed to proceed, a judge in Virginia ruled on Tuesday.

The ruling comes less than a year after Depp lost his libel lawsuit against the Sun tabloid newspaper over an August 2018 story that called the star a “wife-beater” in his relationship with now ex-wife Heard.

This lawsuit is over an op-ed Heard wrote in the Washington Post about her experience as a survivor of domestic violence.

Heard has argued that the U.K. judgment should have an effect on this case, essentially rendering his claim decided.

“At the time Plaintiff initiated his suit against The Sun, Defendant had not even released her op-ed. Plaintiff’s defamation claim in the UK was based on completely different statements than the present case,” Fairfax County Chief Judge Penney Azcarate wrote.

The judge also pointed out that “the libel laws of Virginia are starkly different than those of England. The Declaration of Independence and the First Amendment of the United States Constitution represent major departures from the English Common Law with respect to freedom of speech and freedom of the press.”

In the U.K. case, the judge found evidence of 12 episodes of domestic violence and dismissed Johnny Depp’s claim that Heard had “constructed a hoax.” He further concluded that Depp’s accusations of abuse by Heard “had a negative effect on her career as an actor and activist.”

In a recent interview with Britain’s The Times, which is part of the same publishing group owned by Rupert Murdoch that also owns the tabloid The Sun, Depp called the last five years of dealing with the case “surreal” and referred to a Hollywood “boycott” of him.

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.


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