Johnny Depp scores rare victory over Amber Heard’s $7m divorce settlement pledge

Depp’s lawyer claims promised donation was a ‘calculated and manipulative lie’

Roisin O'Connor
Monday 02 August 2021 20:13
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Johnny Depp and Amber Heard arrive at the High Court as libel hearing continues
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Johnny Depp has won a rare victory as he attempts to discover whether his ex-wife Amber Heard carried out her promised donation of her $7m (£5m) divorce settlement.

The Aquaman star pledged to donate the money to the American Civil Liberties Union and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles after the couple split in 2016.

However, Depp’s lawyer Andrew Caldecott has argued that the promised donation was “a calculated and manipulative lie” that “tipped the scales against Mr Depp from the very beginning”.

He also alleged that the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles wrote to Depp’s business adviser in 2019 to inform them Heard had not made any payments.

A New York judge has now partially granted a petition by Depp’s legal team, which will forced the ACLU to release documents that confirm whether or not Heard followed through on her pledge.

Depp’s lawyer Benjamin Chew said in a statement to USA Today that the Pirates of the Caribbean star was “most gratified” by the court’s decision.

The Independent has contacted Heard’s representative for comment.

In November last year, Depp lost a libel lawsuit in London against The Sun’s publisher after a 2018 headline labelled him a “wife beater”.

Giving evidence in a statement dated 26 February, Heard stated: “I remained financially independent from him [Depp] the whole time we were together and the entire amount of my divorce settlement was donated to charity.”

Judge Andrew Nichol cited the gesture while deciding the libel case in The Sun’s favour, commenting that the “donation of the $7 million to charity is hardly the act one would expect of a gold digger”.

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Lawyers for The Sun’s publisher rejected the arguments of Depp’s lawyers at the time, saying Heard did not lie about the donations because she was pledging to pay the sums over 10 years.

She had made “a number of payments already in pursuance of these pledges,” said Adam Wolanski, representing News Group Newspapers.

Depp also lost a bid to overturn the High Court ruling in March this year.

The producer of Aquaman sequel Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, Peter Safran, recently spoke out in response to a petition launched by Depp’s fans demanding Heard be removed from the movie.

The petition, which attracted more than a million signatures, accused Heard of a “systematic crusade to ruin Depp in Hollywood”.

“I don’t think we’re ever going to react to, honestly, pure fan pressure,” said Safran. “You gotta do what’s best for the movie. We felt that if it’s James Wan, and Jason Momoa, it should be Amber Heard. That’s really what it was.”

He added: “One is not unaware of what is going on in the Twitter-verse, but that doesn’t mean you have to react to it or take it as gospel or accede to their wishes. You have to do what’s right for the film, and that’s really where we landed on it.”

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