Johnny Depp Loses UK Libel Suit, ‘Wife Beater’ Claim Called ‘Substantially True’

Judge finds evidence of 12 episodes of domestic violence by the star against ex-wife Amber Heard

Last Updated: November 2, 2020 @ 6:23 AM

A British court on Monday ruled against Johnny Depp in 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 Amber Heard.

Justice Andrew Nicol said that News Group Newspapers and Sun executive editor Dan Wootton had proved that the tabloid’s story was “substantially true.” His ruling concluded, “I have found that the great majority of alleged assaults of Ms. Heard by Mr. Depp have been proved to the civil standard.”

The judge found evidence of 12 episodes of domestic violence and dismissed Depp’s claim that Heard had “constructed a hoax.” He further concluded that Depp’s accusations of abusive by Heard “had a negative effect on her career as an actor and activist.”

During a months-long trial, Depp had admitted to ongoing drug and alcohol issues but insisted that the tabloid’s claims of his violent behavior to Heard were “completely untrue.” The two actors, who met on the set of the 2011 film “The Rum Diary,” married in 2015 and divorced two years later after a one-year separation.

Depp’s lawyers said they would appeal the decision, the Associated Press reported. “The judgment is so flawed that it would be ridiculous for Mr. Depp not to appeal this decision,” attorney Jenny Afia said in a statement.

A rep for the Sun, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., hailed the ruling: “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.”

In 2019, Depp also filed a $50 million lawsuit against the Washington Post over an op-ed by Heard about her experience as a survivor of domestic violence. Last month, a Virginia judge ordered Depp to give an in-person deposition next week in the case.