Johnny Depp has been spending more time in court rooms in recent months that he has on movie sets, as the actor has been involved in a variety of legal disputes. Some have been directly against his ex-wife Amber Heard, and others simply include her. One of these latter lawsuits was a case against The Sun newspaper of the U.K. that called Depp a “wife-beater” in its pages. Depp sued for libel, and the verdict is now in. Unfortunately, the court did not agree with the actor’s perspective on the situation, as the case has been dismissed in favor of the defendants.
The case surrounded the use of the term “wife-beater” to describe Depp in a 2018 article. The Sun then called Depp’s ex-wife Amber Heard, to testify. The actress has accused the Pirates of the Caribbean actor of abuse during their relationship. While the decision agrees that Depp’s side successfully proved the elements of a libel claim, the case has been dismissed because, according to THR, the judge found the statements made by The Sun to be “substantially true.” Judge Andrew Nicol Clearly accepted the testimony of Amber Heard as true, and as truth is a solid defense in a libel claim, that’s what has happened here.
Certainly this is a big win for The Sun specifically and will be seen as a win for publishers in general. It’s going to be just as big a hit for Johnny Depp, that now has a U.K. court calling Amber Heard’s allegations against the actor true, even if that wasn’t strictly speaking, the issue at hand. That will be the issue at hand next year when Johnny Depp’s defamation lawsuit against Amber Heard goes to trial in Virginia. Depp has sued his ex-wife claiming that an op-ed she wrote in The Washington Post, in which she speaks of abuse she has suffered (though without ever using Depp’s name) has cost him work, including his spot as Captain Jack Sparrow in the lucrative Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.
Amber Heard has filed a counter lawsuit of her own in that case, and her side is currently set to depose the actor, though his side is looking to have her claims dismissed. If he is required to sit for the deposition, it will likely require Depp to take a break from filming the third Fantastic Beasts film, whose production is getting underway.
Originally, the two lawsuits were going to be heard in close proximity to each other but the pandemic caused delays in both cases. The libel case was one of the few being heard under current conditions. The U.S. defamation case is now looking to get started in the spring of 2021.