Actor Johnny Depp has lost his defamation claim against the Sun and Dan Wootton over articles claiming that he physically abused his ex-wife, Amber Heard. The original online article called him a "wife beater" – later amended to refer to an "assault claim" - and questioned his casting in the Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them film franchise. News Group Newspapers succeeded with its single defence, that the articles were substantially true.
Commenting on the judgment, handed down today, Mishcon de Reya's Head of Reputation Protection, Emma Woollcott said:
"This was a long trial with tens of witnesses cross-examined. The Judge examined in detail 14 incidents which the Sun relied on, and concluded that the allegations against Depp were proved on the civil test, i.e. the balance of probabilities. He rejected the notion that Ms Heard had constructed a "hoax" as an insurance policy in the event that the marriage broke down. He also dismissed attempts to challenge Ms Heard's credibility, including on the basis that she still wanted to meet Mr Depp when a restraining order was in place. The judgment will certainly not assist Mr Depp with his separate case against Ms Heard in the US, and it will be celebrated by those who argued that the claim would act as a warning to victims of abuse against speaking out."