Johnny Depp loses bid to overturn High Court libel decision he assaulted Amber Heard

Hollywood star Johnny Depp has been refused permission to appeal a High Court ruling that he assaulted his ex-wife Amber Heard and made her fear for her life.

Johnny Depp and actress Amber Heard 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.
Johnny Depp and actress Amber Heard 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.

Following a three-week trial in July last year, Mr Justice Nicol dismissed the Pirates of the Caribbean star’s libel claim against the publisher of The Sun, finding that an April 2018 column calling Mr Depp a “wife beater” was “substantially true”.

The judge ruled Mr Depp, 57, assaulted Ms Heard, 34, on a dozen occasions and put her in “fear for her life” three times.

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The actor asked the Court of Appeal to grant permission for him to challenge the ruling, with the aim of having its findings overturned and a retrial ordered.

On Thursday, the court refused permission for Mr Depp to appeal against the High Court ruling.

Announcing the ruling at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Lord Justice Underhill said: “We refuse Mr Depp’s application to admit further evidence in support of his proposed appeal and we conclude that the appeal has no real prospect of success and that there is no other compelling reason for it to be heard.

“We accordingly refuse permission to appeal.”

In a statement after the ruling, a spokeswoman for The Sun said: “The Sun had every confidence that this leave to appeal application would not be granted and are pleased with today’s decision.

“The case had a full, fair and proper hearing, and today’s decision vindicates the courageous evidence that Amber Heard gave to the court about domestic abuse, despite repeated attempts to undermine and silence her by the perpetrator.

“The Sun will continue to stand up and campaign for victims of domestic abuse.”

At a hearing last week, Mr Depp’s lawyers asked the court to consider fresh evidence relating to what they said was Ms Heard’s claim that she gave her seven million US dollar (£5.5 million) divorce settlement to charity.

His barrister Andrew Caldecott QC told the court that claim was a “calculated and manipulative lie”.

After the couple divorced in 2016, Ms Heard said she would split the seven million dollars between the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

But, Mr Caldecott said, the hospital wrote to Mr Depp’s business adviser in 2019 to say Ms Heard had not made “any payments”.

The court heard 100,000 dollars (£72,000) was donated to the hospital and 450,000 dollars (£322,000) to the ACLU, although Ms Heard claims she made a further 500,000-dollar (£358,000) donation to the second charity anonymously.

Mr Caldecott said the claims had given Ms Heard “a considerable boost to her credibility as a person”, and had “tipped the scales against Mr Depp from the very beginning”.

But Adam Wolanski QC, representing The Sun’s publisher News Group Newspapers (NGN), said the new evidence Mr Depp wanted to rely on “would not have had any impact” on the result of the trial.

He also rejected Mr Depp’s contention that Ms Heard had lied about donating her divorce settlement to charity, saying: “The information does not demonstrate that Ms Heard lied.”

Mr Wolanski added that Ms Heard had paid “in total, some 950,000 dollars to the ACLU and 850,000 dollars to the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles”.

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