Mr Depp, the well-known actor, sued the publisher of The Sun newspaper and its Executive Editor, Dan Wootton for libel over articles published on 27 and 28 April 2018 headlined “How can JK Rowling be ‘genuinely happy’ casting wife beater Johnny Depp in the new Fantastic Beasts film?” and other headlines.
The Defendants relied on the defence of Truth and sought to prove that Mr Depp beat his wife, actress Amber Heard, causing her to suffer significant injury and on occasion leading to her fearing for her life.
The Defendants’ case was that throughout their relationship Mr Depp was controlling and verbally and physically abusive towards Ms Heard, particularly when he was under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. They relied on 14 alleged incidents of serious physical assault against Ms Heard, which were said to have taken place between 2013 and 2016 in place including Los Angeles, the Bahamas, Tokyo, Australia, south east Asia, and on a flight from Boston to Los Angeles.
Mr Depp’s case was that the article meant that he was guilty, on overwhelming evidence, of serious domestic violence against his then wife, causing significant injury and leading to her
fearing for her life, for which he was constrained to pay no less than £5 million to compensate her, and which resulted in him being subjected to a continuing restraining order; and for that reason is not fit to work in the film industry.
Mr Depp denied that he had ever hit or committed any acts of physical violence against Ms Heard but, instead, his case was that she had been violent towards him.
The trial was held before Mr Justice Nicol over 16 days in July 2020. Mr Depp and Ms Heard gave evidence, as did 18 additional witnesses called by Mr Depp and 6 additional witness called by the Defendants.