Johnny Depp has lost his case in the libel trial against The Sun newspaper.
The Hollywood actor sued the paper’s publisher News Group Newspapers over a 2018 article which labelled him a “wife beater”.
The high-profile trial took place over three weeks in July in London’s Royal Courts of Justice, with Mr Justice Nichol delivering the ruling this morning, telling the court: “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.”
The Pirates of the Caribbean star strenuously denied the allegations that he was physically abusive, while his ex-wife Amber Heard took to the witness stand during the trial in an attempt to prove that the publications claims were true.
On the closing day of the trial, lawyers for the news group told the court that there is a “wealth of evidence” to support their article, which paints a picture of the actor as “a hopeless addict who repeatedly lost his self-control and all ability to restrain his anger”.
Sasha Wass QC, representing the publication, began her closing submissions by telling Mr Justice Nicol that evidence of Mr Depp’s “drug and alcohol-fuelled lifestyle provides a backdrop to the events in question”.
She told the court: “Firstly, it demonstrates that the claimant was subject to irrational mood swings and abnormal behavioural patterns, which would not have been present when Mr Depp was clean and sober, and Mr Depp has a name for this metamorphosed entity, namely ‘The Monster’.
“The other aspect which is important in terms of substance abuse is Mr Depp’s recollection of his own disgraceful conduct, which is so severely impaired by drug misuse that he may not even have been aware of the extent of his violence and terrifying behaviour which, on more than one of these pleaded incidents, put Ms Heard in fear of her life.
“The days are long past when the courts in this country required corroboration before accepting the unsupported testimony of a female complainant,” she continued.
“We submit… that the testimony of a complainant of domestic violence is sufficient to prove the case, provided that the complainant – Ms Heard in this case – gives credible and reliable evidence.”
Sasha Wass added that the “wealth of evidence”, including emails, text messages and medical records, further supported the allegations of domestic violence.
“This paints a picture of a hopeless addict who repeatedly lost his self control and all ability to restrain his anger,” she told the court.
“Tears, apologies and the explanation Depp would regularly give to explain his violent outbursts. namely that he had an illness, and it was ‘The Monster’ who had attacked Heard and not him.
“For the defence of truth to be substantiated, the defendants need to prove on a balance of probabilities that Mr Depp assaulted Ms Heard on at least one occasion.
“During the last two weeks, the defendants have established that many more than one incident of wife-beating took place over the course of the relationship between the claimant (Mr Depp) and Amber Heard.”
NGN’s defence rested on 14 allegations of domestic violence, all of which Johnny Depp denied.
In his witness statement, Johnny stated: “In the tapes of my conversations with Amber that have now been disclosed, it is clear that Amber spoke to me as an aggressor, and not as she has described herself, someone who feared for her life.”
“The hours of recordings reveal the true nature and dynamic of our relationship, including Amber’s confessions of serial violence against me.”
“The threat that nobody will believe I am a victim of domestic violence, and her own acknowledgement that she could not control her violence.”
The star revealed he felt manipulated by his ex-wife, and alleged that she faked having the same interests as him – because he was an “easy target”.
“She presented herself as a carbon copy of me, with precisely the same interests, thoughts, favourite writers, taste in music and art as me,” Johnny claimed.
“At the time, she repeatedly told me how much she admired my films. However, later in our relationship she admitted that she had never seen any of my films.”
“She knew what she wanted and I was an easy target… She had well and truly researched me and my interests and she would try to pose as some expert or intellectual on these things to try to ingratiate herself with me,” Johnny alleged.
Johnny also claimed that the childhood abuse he endured turned him against being violent.
“When I knew I was going to have a baby back in 1998, one of my promises was I would raise my children in the exact opposite way to the way I was raised,” he said.
In his closing statement, Johnny’s lawyer David Shelbourne told the court: “When I say he has lost everything, to him obviously everything is his reputation. This is not about money, this is vindicating him.”