Johnny Depp loses libel trial against The Sun

Posted on: November 2, 2020 by Claire Meadows

Johnny Depp has today lost his libel case against the Sun newspaper over an article that called him a “wife beater”.

Depp sued the paper after it claimed in April 2018 that he assaulted his ex-wife Amber Heard, which he denies. Judge Mr Justice Nicol ruled today, however, that the Sun had proved that the article was “substantially true”.

The judge said: “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 over-arching considerations which the claimant submitted I should take into account.”

Responding to the ruling, the Sun said that the verdict was “a stunning victory for press freedom”.

It said:  “The Sun has stood up and campaigned for the victims of domestic abuse for over 20 years.

“Domestic abuse victims must never be silenced and we thank the judge for his careful consideration and thank Amber Heard for her courage in giving evidence to the court.”

Mr Depp’s case was brought against News Group Newspapers (NGN) – publisher of the Sun – and executive editor Dan Wootton over an article published on the Sun’s website on 27 April 2018. The article had the headline: “Gone Potty: How can JK Rowling be ‘genuinely happy’ casting wife beater Johnny Depp in the new Fantastic Beasts film?”

In a statement, Ms Heard’s lawyer in the US said: “For those of us present for the London High Court trial, this decision and judgment are not a surprise.

“Very soon, we will be presenting even more voluminous evidence in the US.

“We are committed to obtaining justice for Amber Heard in the US Court and defending Ms Heard’s right to free speech.”

The judgment can be read in full here.

Photo: Sky News