Johnny Depp can continue lawsuit against Amber Heard in US despite UK ruling, judge says

Judge refused to throw out Depp’s £36m defamation lawsuit against Heard

Isobel Lewis
Wednesday 18 August 2021 11:45
Johnny Depp and Amber Heard arrive at the High Court as libel hearing continues
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Johnny Depp’s lawyers say the actor is “gratified” after a judge refused to throw out his defamation lawsuit against Amber Heard.

The actor is currently involved in a $50m (£36m) defamation lawsuit against the Aquaman star, to whom he was married from 2015 to 2017.

In April, Heard attempted to have a judge throw out the case after Depp lost a libel lawsuit in the UK against The Sun over a 2018 headline which labelled him a “wife beater” in relation to Heard.

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

However, on Tuesday (17 August), Fairfax County Chief Judge Penney Azcarate refused to dismiss the case against Heard, as seen in legal documents obtained by Deadline.

“The court is not persuaded by defendant’s argument that plaintiff had a full and fair opportunity to litigate the UK action,” she wrote, adding that the “defendant was not a part in the UK action and was not treated as one”.

Judge Azcarate also said that legal differences between free speech in the UK and US were “untenable” in this scenario, suggesting that Heard’s insistence on similarities between both cases were “puzzling”.

The Sun’s interests were based on whether the statements the newspaper published were false,” she wrote. “Defendant’s interests relate to whether the statements she published were false.”

Depp’s lawyer Ben Chew said that the actor was “most gratified by the court’s decision”.

The dismissal comes days after Depp claimed that he was being boycotted by Hollywood as the US remains the only territory yet to release his new film, Minamata.