Johnny Depp claims ex-wife Amber Heard built up ‘hoax allegations’ as ‘insurance policy’

Actor faces questioning on second day of his libel trial against The Sun for 2018 ‘wife beater’ article

Chiara Giordano
Wednesday 08 July 2020 16:54 BST
Johnny Depp arrives at the High Court in London for the second day of his libel action against The Sun
Johnny Depp arrives at the High Court in London for the second day of his libel action against The Sun (AP)

Johnny Depp has alleged his ex-wife Amber Heard’s domestic abuse allegations are a “hoax” built up over years as an “insurance policy”.

On the second day of Depp’s libel action against The Sun, the High Court heard details of an email written by Heard to the star in 2013, but which was never sent, in which she said he had hurt her “many times” both “physically and emotionally”.

The Hollywood actor, 57, is suing The Sun’s publisher, News Group Newspapers (NGN), and its executive editor, Dan Wootton, over a 2018 article which labelled him a “wife beater” and referred to “overwhelming evidence” that he attacked Heard, 34, during their relationship – which he strenuously denies.

In response to the email, Depp, giving evidence, said it appeared “Ms Heard was building a dossier very early on that appears to be an insurance policy for later”.

Heard’s email, read by NGN’s lawyer Sasha Wass QC, began: “I just don’t know if I can do this anymore. It is like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Half of you I love madly, and the other half scares me. I can’t take him. I wish I could, but I can’t.

“The problem is, I never really know/understand which one I’m dealing with until it’s too late.

“The drinking assures me that I am dealing with the monster. The abused, scared, insecure, violent little boy. I just can’t tell where the line starts.”

Ms Wass put to Depp: “Your answer to Ms Heard’s allegation that you were a serial domestic abuser was that this is a hoax.”

The actor replied: “Hoax is probably the best word one could use because the allegations, all of the allegations, are patently untrue.

“From hearing you read out this (email), that was not sent to me, and from some of the information I have garnered from my experience yesterday and having studied the case, I will suggest, ma’am, that it appears to me that Ms Heard was building a dossier very early on that appears to be an insurance policy for later.”

During his second day on the witness stand, Depp faced further questioning on his drug use, allegations of violence, his relationship with Heard and accusations of jealousy.

Undated picture shown in court of lines of cocaine on a table that were allegedly taken by actor Johnny Depp, which has been referred as an exhibit in the hearing of his libel case at the High Court in London. (PA)
Undated handout photo of lines of cocaine on a table allegedly taken by actor Johnny Depp, which has been referred to to in court during the hearing of his libel case. (Simons Muirhead Burton/PA)

The actor rejected suggestions he slapped Heard three times during a time when he had “fallen off the wagon” after she laughed at his “Wino Forever” tattoo, saying “that is not true, you are mistaken”.

The court also heard details of an alleged incident at a trailer park in Hicksville, California, in June 2013 – one of 14 allegations of domestic violence NGN relies on as part of its defence to Mr Depp’s claim, all of which the star denies.

Heard claims he became “enraged” and “jealous” when one of her friends, referred to as Kelly Sue and described as having been “very close to Ms Heard, touched her”.

Ms Wass said to Depp: “You started to get angry, ‘the monster’ joined the party and you took exception to a woman who was in your group called Kelly Sue.”

Depp said he did “take exception”, saying: “She was putting her hands on Amber and I thought it was an uncomfortable position to put her in.”

He denied becoming extremely angry and shouting at her, saying: “I removed Miss Kelly Sue’s hand from Ms Heard’s body and told her not to do that.”

Amber Heard arrives at the High Court in London for the second day of the libel case (PA)

Depp was asked about another alleged incident in March 2013, when Heard claims he hit her several times after an argument about a painting by her ex-partner, Tasya van Ree, which was hanging in her bedroom.

Ms Wass asked: “Would you describe yourself as jealous?,” to which he replied: “I am, yes. I can be jealous.”

The barrister said: “You were very jealous and accusatory of Ms Heard, suggesting that she was having, or continuing, her affair with Tasya van Ree – it became an obsession of yours that night.”

Depp said: “I remember we had several arguments about Ms van Ree, I won’t elaborate.”

He later denied allegations put to him by Ms Wass that he tried to remove the painting and to set fire to it, saying each time they were “not true”.

Asked about an incident in which he allegedly dangled Heard’s Yorkshire terrier, Pistol, out of the window of a moving car, Depp said “it is absolute, utter falsity.”

“That is not my idea of fun, although my sense of humour is rather skewed,” he said.

NGN is defending its article as true and alleges Depp was “controlling and verbally and physically abusive towards Ms Heard, particularly when he was under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs” between early 2013 and May 2016, when the couple split.

US actor Johnny Depp pictured with ex-wife US actress Amber Heard, September 2015. (AFP via Getty Images)

In a written outline of the actor’s case, his barrister, David Sherborne, said the article made “defamatory allegations of the utmost seriousness” against Depp, accusing him of committing serious assaults on Heard and “inflicting such serious injuries that she feared for her life”.

Mr Sherborne said: “The articles amount to a full-scale attack on the claimant as a ‘wife beater’, guilty of the most horrendous physical abuse.

“The claimant’s position is clear – Ms Heard’s allegations are complete lies.

“The claimant was not violent towards Ms Heard; it was she who was violent to him.”

He added: “The marriage was at times physical, at her instigation, and on occasions he found it necessary to defend himself from her violence. He is not a wife beater and never has been.”

The trial is expected to last three weeks.

Additional reporting by PA

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