Stakes excessive as Johnny Depp’s libel case towards UK tabloid closes

London, July 28

Johnny Depp’s libel case towards a British tabloid that accused him of abusing ex-wife Amber Heard wraps up Tuesday after three weeks of courtroom hearings that dissected a poisonous superstar love affair.

The “Pirates of the Caribbean” star is suing News Group Newspapers, writer of The Sun, and the newspaper’s govt editor, Dan Wootton, on the High Court in London over an April 2018 article that referred to as him a “wife-beater”.

He strongly denies being violent to Heard and says her claims are a “hoax”. Depp’s lawyer David Sherborne is because of make his closing arguments that can final many of the day. Then decide Andrew Nicol will retire to sift declare and counterclaim as he considers his verdict. He is anticipated at hand down his ruling in a number of weeks.

What is the decide deciding?

Neither Depp nor Heard is on trial, although it has been simple to overlook that in a case that raked over messy particulars of the couple’s unstable relationship.

Depp is the claimant within the civil case, NGN and Wootton are the defendants and Heard is their major witness. To defeat Depp’s libel declare, the newspaper should persuade the decide that, on the steadiness of possibilities, its story was correct.

NGN’s lawyer Sasha Wass stated in her summing-up that there was little question Depp “regularly and systematically abused his wife” and so the “wife-beater” label was correct.

What is in dispute?

The two sides agree that the connection between Depp and Heard, which started after they met on the set of 2011 comedy “The Rum Diary”, soured lengthy earlier than they divorced in 2017. Texts, emails and recordings attest to the more and more bitter relations between Depp, now 57, and the 34-year-old mannequin and actress.

But they disagree fully over who began and escalated their fights.

Depp denies Heard’s declare of 14 separate incidents through which he allegedly hit, slapped and shoved her, pulled her hair and threw bottles at her “like grenades”. The decide was proven pictures of Heard with black eyes, crimson marks on her face and an injured scalp — all proof of Depp’s violence, the defence stated.

Depp stated the pictures have been a part of a “dossier” of faux proof and claimed that Heard hit him, even severing the tip of his finger throughout one fracas in Australia. Under cross-examination, Depp admitted headbutting Heard as soon as throughout a tussle however stated it was accidentally as he tried to cease her punching him.

Heard acknowledged having a brief mood and stated she punched Depp as soon as in March 2015. But she stated it was to forestall him from hitting her sister.

What have we realized?

The trial has offered an up-close and infrequently unflattering have a look at Hollywood stardom, revealing particulars of Depp’s lifetime of wealth, luxurious, emotional turmoil and substance abuse.

Mark Stephens, a media lawyer at legislation agency Howard Kennedy, stated the sensational case “has all of the hallmarks of the Roman arena”. “People will remember this case, not for the results, but for the evidence — the rather nasty, gory evidence — that was involved,” he stated.

The settings for the disintegrating relationship have been as glamorous because the allegations have been sordid. The alleged assaults befell on Depp’s personal island within the Bahamas, his suite of Los Angeles penthouses, a luxurious practice and a non-public jet.

Depp stated within the witness field that he had made $650 million since he joined the profitable “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise — and ended up $100 million in debt after his monetary advisers uncared for to pay his taxes for 17 years. Friends described Depp as a beneficiant large spender and he stated he’d spent $5 million sending the ashes of his literary hero, drug-fueled journalist Hunter S Thompson, into area.

Whichever partner was guilty, the connection left a path of destruction. Damage to a rented home in Australia the place the couple had an altercation was estimated at greater than $1,00,000. The couple’s downtown LA penthouse was trashed throughout one other argument.

The low level of the connection, in line with Depp, got here when an individual or animal defecated in a mattress on the penthouse. Heard blamed one of many couple’s two Yorkshire terriers however Depp suspected Heard or certainly one of her pals was guilty.

Who are the winners and losers?

British libel legislation is extensively thought-about to favour claimants over defendants however Depp might find yourself a loser even when he wins.

Depp stated he sued The Sun as a result of his profession had been harmed by Heard’s allegations. But the case has amplified the claims for tens of millions of individuals world wide, regardless of the decide finally ends up deciding.

“It almost beggars belief that anyone rational has taken this case to court,” Stephens stated, including: “Now, I know that many people say it’s all about vindication. It’s all about proving he’s not a wife-beater. But the stakes are very, very high for everybody. And at some level, mud sticks.”

Heard additionally has had her character questioned and has been accused of fabricating proof. She was accused by a #MeToo activist, Katherine Kendall, of appropriating a violent rape that occurred to Kendall for her personal ends.

The probably winners are Wass and Sherborne, powerful attorneys who each made sturdy instances for his or her purchasers. Sherborne additionally has a starring function within the 12 months’s different large superstar trial in London — he’s representing the Duchess of Sussex in her lawsuit towards the Mail on Sunday newspaper over publication of a non-public letter she despatched to her father Thomas Markle.

Will the decision be the tip of the story?

Not doubtless. Depp is suing Heard for $50 million in Virginia over a Washington Post story about home violence. The trial is because of be held subsequent 12 months. AP

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