Johnny Depp: 'Wife beater' libel trial enters final day as lawyer calls allegation 'career-ending'

Judgment to be reserved in high-profile court battle

Emily Goddard
Tuesday 28 July 2020 12:18 BST
Johnny Depp arrives for final day of libel hearing

Johnny Depp arrived at the Royal Courts of Justice for the final day of his libel case against a British tabloid on Tuesday after three weeks of hearings that exposed lurid details of his volatile relationship with Amber Heard.

The 57-year-old actor is suing The Sun’s publisher, News Group Newspapers (NGN), and its executive editor Dan Wootton after it described him as a “wife-beater” in an April 2018 article.

Depp’s lawyer, David Sherborne, who will make his closing arguments throughout the day, said the actor strongly denied the “reputation-destroying, career-ending allegation”.

Depp denies he assaulted ex-wife Heard, 34, on the 14 occasions she alleges he hit, slapped and shoved her, pulled her hair and threw bottles at her “like grenades”.

The actor also said photos shown to the court of Heard with black eyes, red marks on her face and an injured scalp — alleged evidence of Depp’s violence — were part of a “dossier” of fake evidence and claimed it was Heard who hit him.

Heard said she punched Depp once in March 2015, but that she only did so to prevent him from hitting her sister.

NGN must persuade the judge that, on the balance of probabilities, its story was accurate to defeat Depp’s libel claim.

NGN’s lawyer, Sasha Wass, said in her summing-up that there was no doubt Depp “regularly and systematically abused his wife” and so the “wife beater” label was justified.

But Mr Sherborne said The Sun’s article — which ran under the headline “How can JK Rowling be ‘genuinely happy’ casting wife beater Johnny Depp in the new Fantastic Beasts film?” — gave the false impression Depp had been “tried, convicted and sentenced” for domestic violence.

“Acting as both judge and jury, the defendants plainly and squarely state that Mr Depp is guilty (of a) series of serious and violent criminal offences,” he added.

Judge Andrew Nicol is expected to reserve judgment and hand down his ruling in several weeks.

Additional reporting by Associated Press

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