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Johnny Depp v The Sun: All the reaction to the ruling

Written by on 02/11/2020

It was the blockbuster libel trial of the 21st century – Johnny Depp versus The Sun.

Now, after three weeks in court and three months waiting for a judgment, Depp has lost his High Court action.

At the end of a case filled with details of drug-taking, celebrity indulgence and his volatile relationship with Amber Heard, here are the key players’ reactions to the ruling.

Actor Johnny Depp arriving at the High Court in London for a hearing in his libel case against the publishers of The Sun and its executive editor, Dan Wootton. PA Photo. Picture date: Thursday July 9, 2020. 57-year-old Depp is suing the tabloid's publisher News Group Newspapers (NGN) over an article which called him a "wife beater" and referred to "overwhelming evidence" he attacked Ms Heard, 34, during their relationship, which he strenuously denies. See PA story COURTS Depp. Photo credit should read: Victoria Jones/PA Wire
Image: The judge has ruled The Sun’s article to be ‘substantially true’

The Judge

Johnny Depp had sued News Group Newspapers (NGN, publishers of The Sun) over a column titled “Gone Potty: How can JK Rowling be ‘genuinely happy’ casting wife beater Johnny Depp in the new Fantastic Beasts film?” in April 2018, written by executive editor Dan Wootton.

Mr Justice Nicol dismissed the Hollywood star’s claim, saying NGN had proved what was in the article to be “substantially true”.

The judge said: “Although he has proved the necessary elements of his cause of action in libel, the defendants have shown that what they published in the meaning which I have held the words to bear was substantially true.

“I have reached these conclusions having examined in detail the 14 incidents on which the defendants rely, as well as the over-arching considerations which the claimant submitted, I should take into account.”

He went on: “I have found that the great majority of alleged assaults of Ms Heard by Mr Depp have been proved to the civil standard.”

He said that “a recurring theme in Mr Depp’s evidence was that Ms Heard had constructed a hoax and that she had done this as an ‘insurance policy’,” and that Ms Heard was a “gold-digger”.

But he added: “I do not accept this characterisation of Ms Heard.”

Mr Justice Nicol also said he accepted Heard’s evidence that the allegations she made against Depp “have had a negative effect on her career as an actor and activist”.

Dan Wootton attends the Barclaycard Exclusive Area at Barclaycard Presents British Summer Time Hyde Park at Hyde Park on July 14, 2019
Image: Dan Wootton is executive editor of The Sun, and wrote the 2018 article

The Sun

A spokesperson for The Sun said: “The Sun has stood up and campaigned for the victims of domestic abuse for over 20 years.

“Domestic abuse victims must never be silenced and we thank the judge for his careful consideration and thank Amber Heard for her courage in giving evidence to the court.”

Amber Heard arrives at the High Court on 27 July
Image: Heard’s team say the result is ‘not a surprise’

Amber Heard

Amber Heard’s US lawyer Elaine Charlson Bredehoft said the ruling was “not a surprise” and referred to Depp’s upcoming $50m (£39m) US defamation claim against Heard.

She said: “For those of us present for the London High Court trial, this decision and judgment are not a surprise.

“Very soon, we will be presenting even more voluminous evidence in the US.

“We are committed to obtaining justice for Amber Heard in the US court and defending Ms Heard’s right to free speech.”

The entirely separate US case concerns an opinion piece the actress wrote for the Washington Post – although it did not mention Depp by name.

Ms Bredehoft said Heard’s legal team will be presenting more evidence in the case, which is due to go before another judge in Virginia next May.

Actor Johnny Depp gestures as he arrives at the High Court in London, Britain July 22, 2020. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
Image: Depp has lost his High Court case – has he also lost his career and reputation?

Johnny Depp

Depp is yet to comment on the ruling. It is not yet known if he will be appealing the decision.

Sky News has contacted his team for comment.

 Sky News

© Sky News 2020