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Johnny Depp Loses Libel Case Against The Sun Over 'Wife Beater' Claims

Tom Wood

| Last updated 

Johnny Depp Loses Libel Case Against The Sun Over 'Wife Beater' Claims

Johnny Depp has lost a libel case against The Sun newspaper and executive editor Dan Wootton after a lengthy legal battle.

Depp will now have to pay a substantial amount of money in legal costs to News Group Newspapers.

A spokesperson for The Sun said: "The Sun has stood up and campaigned for the victims of domestic abuse for over twenty 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."

Depp and Heard divorced in 2017. Credit: PA
Depp and Heard divorced in 2017. Credit: PA

The case centred on whether an article published in The Sun in which Depp was called a 'wife beater' was libellous.

Depp argued the case had been aggravated by his name being included alongside that of convicted sex offender Harvey Weinstein, as well as the fact The Sun retained the article on its website.

The truth of the matter was decided on the balance of probabilities, a lower standard than required in a criminal case.

The case shot to worldwide attention during a three week courtroom battle in July at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.

The legal battle, which focuses on a piece written by The Sun in which the newspaper claimed that the 57-year-old actor had assaulted his then-wife Amber Heard, has been described as the biggest English libel trial of the 21st century.

Johnny Depp. Credit: PA
Johnny Depp. Credit: PA

For their part, The Sun claimed to have seen 'overwhelming evidence' that Depp had attacked the 34-year-old Heard, whilst Depp strenuously denies those allegations.

Both Depp and Heard ended up giving evidence the 16-day-long trial, which aired the tempestuous nature of their relationship, and stories of both brutal violence and intimate detail.

In closing, Depp's barrister said that he wanted to set the record straight.

David Sherborne said: "What is important to Mr Depp is clearing his name of these appalling allegations, expanded on as it has been over the last four years, as a result of which he has lost nothing less than everything, he would say.

"When I say he has lost everything, to him obviously everything is his reputation.

"This is not about money, this is vindicating him."

During a 20-hour-long stint in the witness box, Depp answered questions about his lifestyle - including his relationship with drink and drugs - and the allegations of violence.

Throughout, he has denied the allegations made against him in The Sun.

Amber Heard. Credit: PA
Amber Heard. Credit: PA

Sasha Wass QC, the lawyer for News Group Newspapers, told the court that there was 'no doubt that Mr Depp regularly and systematically abused his wife'.

He added: "The characterisation that he is a wife-beater is entirely truthful."

Depp has also brought a separate claim against Heard for defamation after a column that she wrote.

The piece was published in the Washington Post, and Depp is suing for $50m (£38m).

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: johnny depp, World News, UK News, TV and Film, Celebrity, US Entertainment

Tom Wood
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