TMZ files emergency motion to prevent former employee testifying in Depp-Heard case

Outlet says it promised confidentiality to source over 2016 video and story

Heard's op-ed had basically no impact on Johnny Depp's career, expert says
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Celebrity news outlet TMZ has filed an emergency motion to prevent a former employee from testifying in the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard defamation case.

The California-based news organisation has asked a judge to block the employee from being called as a witness by Mr Depp’s lawyers based on “journalist’s privilege”, according to court papers.

Lawyers for TMZ write that the company wants Morgan Tremaine prevented from taking the stand in the case in Fairfax, Virginia, and “disclosing TMZ’s priviledged information” during testimony.

In the motion, TMZ says that their concern relates to an article it published on 12 August 2016, entitled “Johnny Depp Goes Off On Amber...Smashes Wine Glass, Bottle.”

The court papers state that TMZ was provided a video by a “confidential source” and that the company had promises to ensure confidentiality and “would not disclose their name”.

In the video, which has been brought up during the trial, Mr Depp is seen slamming cupboard doors and throwing a wine bottle.

During cross-examination, Mr Depp’s attorney Camille Vasquez grilled Ms Heard about the leak and it is likely the actor’s team will try to find out exactly where the video came from.

The defamation trial between Mr Depp and Ms Heard began on Monday 11 April in Fairfax, Virginia, following Mr Depp’s lawsuit against his ex-wife in March 2019.

Mr Depp is arguing that she defamed him in a December 2018 op-ed published in The Washington Post titled “I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change”.

While Mr Depp isn’t named in the piece, his legal team argues that it contains a “clear implication that Mr Depp is a domestic abuser”, which they say is “categorically and demonstrably false”.

Mr Depp is seeking damages of “not less than $50m”. Ms Heard has filed a $100m counterclaim against Mr Depp for nuisance and immunity from his allegations.

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