Johnny Depp Loses Libel Case Against British Newspaper

Published on November 2, 2020

Johnny Depp lost his court case Monday. He sued British company News Group Newspapers, who publishes The Sun after the paper ran an article in 2018 calling Depp a “wife beater”. The newspaper also claimed in the article that there was overwhelming evidence that Depp repeatedly assaulted his wife during their marriage. Depp then sued the paper for libel.

The Case

The case, which went to trial in July, was a long and exceptionally messy one. Amber Heard, Depp’s ex-wife, testified on behalf of the newspaper. Both parties aired significant grievances about their tumultuous marriage. The tabloid headlines essentially wrote themselves.

Heard testified with details of Depp’s alleged drug abuse and subsequent violent behavior. Depp’s legal team responded with claims that Heard was actually the abuser in the relationship. Heard admitted to hitting Depp once, in an effort to stop him from pushing her sister down the stairs. She also testified that Depp smashed a cell phone into her face in 2015. Lawyers for the newspaper posited that Depp may not remember these assaults due to his excessive substance abuse.

The Decision

Ultimately, the judge concluded that Johnny Depp did in fact put Heard “in fear of her life”. The judge rejected the claims laid out by Depp’s lawyers that Heard was a gold-digger that invented the whole story. Justice Nicol, the British judge assigned to the case, ruled that the newspaper proved that what they published about Depp was “substantially true”.

It’s possible that Depp will try to appeal this decision, but prominent women’s groups are calling this a win for domestic violence survivors.

This is not the only case that Depp and Heard are currently involved in. Depp is also suing Heard in the United States for defamation. The lawsuit stems from an article that Heard wrote for The Washington Post about her experiences as a survivor of sexual violence. The article does not specifically name Depp, but he claims this opinion piece led to him losing his role in the Pirates of Caribbean franchise.

It is unclear if the British court’s ruling will have any impact on Depp’s American case.

Olivia Smith is a Staff Writer at Grit Daily. Based in San Francisco, she covers events, entertainment, fashion, and technology. She also serves as a Voices contributor at PopSugar.

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