Stakes High as Depp’s Libel Case Against UK Tabloid Closes

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LONDON – Johnny Depp’s libel case towards a British tabloid that accused him of abusing ex-wife Amber Heard was wrapping up Tuesday after three weeks of court docket hearings that dissected a poisonous superstar love affair.

The “Pirates of the Caribbean” star is suing News Group Newspapers, writer of The Sun, and the newspaper’s govt editor, Dan Wootton, on the High Court in London over an April 2018 article that known as him a “wife-beater.”  

In closing arguments, Depp’s lawyer, David Sherborne, stated the actor strongly denied “this reputation-destroying, career-ending allegation.”

Once Sherborne is completed, decide Andrew Nicol will retire to sift declare and counterclaim as he considers his verdict. He is anticipated handy down his ruling in a number of weeks.

What Is The Judge Deciding?

Neither Depp nor Heard is on trial, although it has been straightforward to overlook that in a case that raked over messy particulars of the couple’s unstable relationship.

Depp is the claimant within the civil case, NGN and Wootton are the defendants and Heard is their predominant witness. To defeat Depp’s libel declare, the newspaper should persuade the decide that, on the stability of possibilities, its story was correct.

NGN’s lawyer, Sasha Wass, stated in her summing-up that there was little doubt Depp “recurrently and systematically abused his spouse” and so the “wife-beater” label was justified.

But Sherborne stated The Sun’s article — which urged J.Ok. Rowling to have Depp fired from the film model of her guide “Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them” — gave the misunderstanding Depp had been “tried, convicted and sentenced” for home violence.

“Acting as each decide and jury, the defendants plainly and squarely state that Mr. Depp is responsible (of a) sequence of great and violent felony offenses,” he stated.

What Is In Dispute?

The two sides agree that the connection between Depp and Heard, which started after they met on the set of 2011 comedy “The Rum Diary,” soured lengthy earlier than they divorced in 2017. Texts, emails and recordings attest to the more and more bitter relations between Depp, now 57, and the 34-year-old mannequin and actress.

But they disagree utterly over who began and escalated their fights.

Depp denies Heard’s declare of 14 separate incidents by which he allegedly hit, slapped and shoved her, pulled her hair and threw bottles at her “like grenades.” The decide was proven pictures of Heard with black eyes, purple marks on her face and an injured scalp — alleged proof of Depp’s violence.

Depp stated the pictures have been a part of a “file” of pretend proof and claimed that Heard hit him, even severing the tip of his finger with a thrown vodka bottle. Under cross-examination Depp admitted headbutting Heard throughout a tussle, however stated it was by chance as he tried to cease her punching him.

Heard acknowledged having a brief mood and stated she punched Depp as soon as in March 2015. But she stated it was to forestall him hitting her sister.

What Have We Learned?

The trial has offered an up-close and infrequently unflattering take a look at Hollywood stardom, revealing particulars of Depp’s lifetime of wealth, luxurious, emotional turmoil and substance abuse.

Mark Stephens, a media lawyer at regulation agency Howard Kennedy, stated the sensational case “has all the hallmarks of the Roman enviornment.”

“People will keep in mind this case not for the outcomes, however for the proof — the reasonably nasty, gory proof — that was concerned,” he stated.

The settings for the disintegrating relationship have been as glamorous because the allegations have been sordid. The alleged assaults befell on Depp’s personal island within the Bahamas, a Los Angeles penthouse, a luxurious prepare and a non-public jet.

Depp stated within the witness field that he had made $650 million since he joined the profitable “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise — and ended up $100 million in debt after his monetary advisers uncared for to pay his taxes for 17 years. Friends described Depp as a beneficiant huge spender, and he stated he’d spent $5 million sending the ashes of his literary hero, drug-fueled journalist Hunter S. Thompson, into house.  

Whichever partner was in charge, the connection left a path of destruction. Damage to a rented home in Australia the place the couple had an altercation was estimated at greater than $100,000. The couple’s downtown L.A. penthouse was trashed throughout one other argument.

The low level of the connection, in response to Depp, got here when excrement was present in a mattress on the penthouse. Heard blamed one of many couple’s two Yorkshire terriers, however Depp suspected Heard or one among her buddies was in charge.

Who Are The Winners And Losers?

British libel regulation is extensively thought of to favor claimants over defendants, however Depp may find yourself a loser even when he wins.

Depp stated he sued The Sun as a result of his profession had been harmed by Heard’s allegations. But the case has amplified the claims for hundreds of thousands of individuals around the globe, regardless of the decide finally ends up deciding.

“It nearly beggars perception that anybody rational has taken this case to court docket,” Stephens stated. “Now, I do know that many individuals say it is all about vindication. It’s all about proving he isn’t a spouse beater. But the stakes are very, very excessive for everyone. And at some stage, mud sticks.”

Heard additionally has had her character questioned and has been accused of fabricating proof. She was accused by a #MeToo activist, Katherine Kendall, of appropriating a violent rape that occurred to Kendall for her personal ends.

The almost definitely winners are Wass and Sherborne, robust attorneys who each made robust circumstances for his or her purchasers. Sherborne additionally has a starring function in one other huge superstar trial — he is representing the Duchess of Sussex in her lawsuit towards the Mail on Sunday newspaper over publication of a non-public letter she despatched to her father Thomas Markle.

Will The Verdict Be The End Of The Story?

Not probably. Depp is suing Heard for $50 million in Virginia over a Washington Post story about home violence. The trial is because of be held subsequent yr.

Stephens stated that if Depp “loses in London, he is nearly sure to lose that American case. So that is in some methods a costume rehearsal for the second case.”


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