London (Brussels Morning) Hollywood actor Johnny Depp has lost a high profile case in the High Court, London, against the Sun newspaper after it published an article describing the star as a “wife beater”.
“The defendants have shown that what they published in the meaning which I have held the words to bear was substantially true”, said Justice Nicol, the presiding judge over the case.
In April 2018, the British tabloid published the article ‘Gone Potty: How can JK Rowling be ‘genuinely happy’ casting wife beater Johnny Depp in the new Fantastic Beasts film?’
The 57-year-old actor filed the case against publisher News Group Newspapers (NGN) and an executive editor of the Sun, Dan Wootton.
In the three week hearing that ended in July, the burden of proof was on the paper that there was sufficient evidence to substantiate the claims made.
Depp’s ex-wife Amber Heard provided evidence to the court describing 14 incidents of domestic violence alleged to have occurred between 2013 and 2016.
The judge found there was reasonable evidence to suggest 12 of them had occurred.
“Taking all the evidence together, I accept that she was the victim of sustained and multiple assaults by Mr Depp in Australia”, said Justice Nicol.
Depp is suing Heard in a separate case in the US for an opinion piece she wrote in the Washington Post.
“For those of us present for the London high court trial, this decision and judgment are not a surprise”, said Heard’s US lawyer Elaine Charlson Bredehoft.
“Very soon, we will be presenting even more voluminous evidence in the US. We are committed to obtaining justice for Amber Heard in the US court and defending Ms Heard’s right to free speech”, she said.
Jenny Afia, Depp’s representative from London law firm Schillings, said, “This decision is as perverse as it is bewildering. Most troubling is the judge’s reliance on the testimony of Amber Heard and corresponding disregard of the mountain of counter-evidence from police officers, medical practitioners, her own former assistant, other unchallenged witnesses and an array of documentary evidence which completely undermined the allegations, point by point. All of this was overlooked”.
“The judgment is so flawed that it would be ridiculous for Mr Depp not to appeal this decision”, she added.
The Sun responded in a statement after the hearing, saying:
“The Sun has stood up and campaigned for the victims of domestic abuse for over 20 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”.