Warning: This article may be triggering for some readers. Please read at your own discretion.
Johnny Depp’s former estate manager said Wednesday that Amber Heard had asked him to lie under oath after she was charged with bringing her two dogs to Australia illegally.
Kevin Murphy was testifying in Depp’s libel suit against a British tabloid that accused the actor of physically abusing Heard, his ex-wife.
Depp is suing the Sun’s publisher, News Group Newspapers, and its executive editor, Dan Wootton, over an April 2018 article headlined “Potty — How can JK Rowling be ‘genuinely happy’ casting wife beater Johnny Depp in the new Fantastic Beasts film?” Depp strongly denies abusing Heard.
Murphy claimed Heard pressured him to commit perjury about the traveling terriers or risk losing his job.
“She wanted me to say essentially that it was my fault in one way or another that the paperwork wasn’t completed, so that I could take the blame for her,” Murphy said.
Heard was charged in July 2015 with bringing Yorkshire terriers Pistol and Boo to the country illegally earlier that year. She pleaded guilty in April 2016 and escaped a conviction after expressing remorse.
In a written witness statement for Depp’s case, Murphy said Heard asked him to falsely claim that she didn’t know it was illegal to bring the dogs to Australia, which has strict animal quarantine rules.
Murphy’s statement said that Heard had said to him “‘I want your help on this. I wouldn’t want you to have a problem with your job.’”
Murphy gave evidence to the case at the High Court Wednesday in London by video link from Chicago. He was accused of lying by The Sun’s lawyer, Sasha Wass, who pointed out that he had subsequently made a misleading declaration in the Australian court case. Murphy said he did so at Heard’s request because he was afraid of losing his job.
“Why on Earth did you not go to Mr. Depp to ask him to intervene rather than just lying on oath?” Wass asked Murphy.
Murphy responded, “Because Amber wielded a lot of power and would have made my life miserable.”
Heard’s former personal assistant also gave testimony on Wednesday at Depp’s libel trial.
Kate James claimed that she told Heard about a violent sexual assault she had endured, only for Heard to “twist” the story for her own use.
James worked for Heard between 2012 and 2015, and she gave evidence in support of Depp during the trial.
She said that she had told Heard that she was raped at machete-point in Brazil about 25 years ago and she was shocked to learn that in a witness statement, Heard misrepresented and exploited the incident.
“She referred directly to a violent rape that occurred to me 26 years ago and she twisted it into her own story and she used it for her own use,” James said by video link from Los Angeles.
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Depp and Heard — who met while filming The Rum Diary in 2011 — were married on Feb. 3, 2015. On May 23, 2016, Heard filed for divorce, seeking spousal support. She cited irreconcilable differences as the reason. They were officially divorced on Jan. 13, 2017.
Four days after filing for divorce, Heard requested a temporary domestic violence restraining order against Depp, which the judge granted after she submitted multiple photos as evidence of alleged assault, one of which purportedly shows the actress with what appears to be a bruise on her right eye. She claimed the incident took place on May 21, less than 48 hours before she filed.
In March 2019, Depp sued Heard in a US$50-million defamation lawsuit, citing a piece she wrote for the Washington Post about domestic abuse.
The complaint said that while Depp was not named in the Post article, it was clear Heard was talking about him. The lawsuit called her ongoing allegations of domestic abuse “categorically and demonstrably false.”
“They were part of an elaborate hoax to generate positive publicity for Ms. Heard and advance her career,” the lawsuit said, claiming: “She is the perpetrator.”
The suit said Depp has suffered financial losses because of the accusations, including being dropped from his role as Capt. Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean films.
In her article, published in the Post in December 2018, Heard also said she lost an acting role and a contract with a major fashion brand because she went public with her claims of abuse.
“I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture’s wrath,” Heard wrote, adding that she felt as though she was “on trial in the court of public opinion.”
Heard asked a judge to dismiss the defamation lawsuit in April 2019.
While neither Heard nor Depp is on trial, the case is a showdown between the former spouses, who accuse each other of being controlling, violent and deceitful during their tempestuous marriage.
Heard is attending the three-week trial and is scheduled to give evidence next week.
Depp’s $50-million lawsuit is due to be heard next year.
If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help.
Are you or someone you know experiencing abuse? Visit the Department of Justice’s Victim Services Directory for a list of support services in your area.
Women, trans and non-binary people can find an additional list of resources here.
—With files from The Associated Press