Johnny Depp appeals ‘wife beater’ libel case ruling in U.K.

Johnny Depp attends the Monte-Carlo Gala For Planetary Health on September 24, 2020 in Monaco. SC Pool - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

Johnny Depp has applied directly to the Court of Appeal in the U.K. in a bid to overturn a ruling that he assaulted and abused his ex-wife Amber Heard, making her fear for her health and safety.

In early November, a British court ruled against the actor in his libel case against the owner of the Sun tabloid newspaper, which labelled him a “wife beater.”

At the time, Justice Andrew Nicol said that the defendants had proved that what they published was “substantially true” during a high-profile trial in London over the summer that included lurid — and irreconcilable — accounts from Depp and Heard in which they accused each other of abuse.

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Depp, 57, sued News Group Newspapers, publisher of The Sun, and the newspaper’s executive editor, Dan Wootton, over an April 2018 article that accused him of assaulting fellow actor Heard. The ruling represented a big blow to Depp’s reputation and to his finances that could seriously damage his lucrative movie career.

Not long after the judge’s ruling, Depp resigned from the Fantastic Beasts film franchise, saying studio Warner Bros. asked him to.

Nicol also refused to give Depp permission to appeal later in November, saying: “I do not consider that the proposed grounds of appeal have a reasonable prospect of success.”

He then said that Depp had until Dec. 7 to apply directly to the court of appeal.

The judge additionally ordered Depp to make a payment to News Group Newspapers of more than $1 million for the publisher’s legal fees.

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“The surreal judgment of the court in the U.K. will not change my fight to tell the truth, and I confirm that I plan to appeal,” said Depp post-ruling.

Now, the actor has filed to appeal, but as of this writing, it’s unknown what grounds he’s basing his appeal on or the timing on whether it’ll be approved or rejected.

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Depp also has another $50-million libel lawsuit underway in the U.S.; he has sued Heard over a 2018 Washington Post op-ed in which she said she was a victim of domestic violence — but never named Depp outright.

At the heart of the Sun’s characterization of Depp as a “wife beater” were allegations it printed that the actor had assaulted Heard 14 times in locations around the world, including a “three-day hostage situation” that Heard said took place in Australia while Depp was filming a Pirates of the Caribbean movie.

Heard, 34, said the abuse was fuelled by Depp’s drug and alcohol use and that he could turn into “the monster” when under the influence. She alleged that at various times between 2013 and 2016 he hit, slapped and shoved her, pulled her hair and threw bottles at her.

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Depp acknowledged in court taking marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy and magic mushrooms, and became addicted to opioid painkillers. But added: “I am certainly not a violent person, especially with women.”

Depp and Heard met on the set of 2011 comedy The Rum Diary and married in Los Angeles in 2015. They separated the following year and divorced in 2017.

With files from The Associated Press

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