High court hears closing remarks in three-week libel case exposing couple’s relationship
Caroline Davies – the Guardian
Amber Heard has spoken of her trauma at reliving the breakup of her marriage, saying she is “placing her faith in British justice” as Johnny Depp’s lawyer branded her a “compulsive liar” and the “abuser” in the couple’s relationship.
As the libel action brought by Depp against the publishers of the Sun newspaper ended on Tuesday, Heard was booed and heckled by Depp fans who have gathered daily outside the high court in London for the proceedings over allegations that the Pirates of the Caribbean star had been violent towards her.
In a short statement, Heard said: “It has been incredibly painful to relive the breakup of my relationship, have my motives and my truth questioned, and the most traumatic and intimate details of my life with Johnny shared in court and broadcast around the entire world.”
She gave “heartfelt thanks for the tremendous outpouring of support and the many messages I have received from around the world. You have given me so much strength and I send it back to you.”
Depp’s lawyer, David Sherborne, told the court in his closing submissions: “From the big points to the small points, Ms Heard has proved herself to be a wholly unreliable witness and, frankly, a compulsive liar, and I don’t say that lightly.”
Summing up the case, Sherborne said: “What is important to Mr Depp is clearing his name of these appalling allegations, expanded on as it has been over the last four years, as a result of which he has lost nothing less than everything, he would say.
“When I say he has lost everything, to him obviously everything is his reputation. This is not about money, this is vindicating him.”
He said a recording made between Depp and Heard, in which she refers to hitting her husband, demonstrated her propensity to violence. “At its very core, we say it demonstrates that she is the abuser, not Mr Depp. He is no wife beater,” he told the judge, Mr Justice Nicol.
He added: “If it was a man who had said what Ms Heard said, and who had admitted to what she admitted to, if this was Mr Depp, for example, and it was the other way around, can you imagine what consternation there would be?” he said.
Sherborne highlighted a text message sent by Heard, in which she wrote: “This is Amber and I get what I want”. He said Heard had chopped and changed her evidence, and accused others of lying as she maintained her allegations that Depp was violent towards her.
“Doctors were lying, nurses were lying, police officers are lying, only Ms Heard – who was at pains to repeat the well-rehearsed mantra that she was not here to call anyone a liar – only Ms Heard was correct at all times no matter what,” said Sherborne.
In one moment of “unscripted malevolence”, she “tossed in a total lie” about Kate Moss, and a rumour that Depp had pushed the supermodel down some stairs, which was a “gratuitous and totally invented” reference to Moss, said Sherborne.
Heard’s alleged bruises were “magic bruises that only appear when she is on her own or with friends, but never appear when she is out or anyone independent films them”. They were “key” to all of this, yet she didn’t go to the police or a hospital, said Sherborne. “Mr Depp, far from being the domestic abuser, is the domestic abused,” he said.
Depp, 57, is suing the Sun’s publishers, News Group Newspapers, and its executive editor, Dan Wootton, over an article that called him a “wife beater” and referred to “overwhelming evidence” that he had attacked Heard. Depp denies ever hitting Heard, 34, who has submitted details of 14 occasions during their relationship when she claims he assaulted her.
Sasha Wass QC, for News Group Newspapers, has said its defence “is one of truth, namely that Mr Depp did indeed beat his wife”.
Describing Heard as a “complex individual with a complex history, medical and emotional”, Sherborne said from the moment Heard left an LA courthouse, after seeking a restraining order against Depp in front of a “barrage” of media, she had become an advocate for victims of domestic violence.
There were many victims of domestic violence, said Sherborne. “But this is a huge disservice to those genuine victims, and those of the #MeToo movement, for Ms Heard to count herself as one of them, as she plainly does.”
Depp was cast into the “rogues’ gallery of abusers” highlighted by the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements after the publication of the Sun article, and “cited in the same breath as disgraced film mogul Harvey Weinstein”, the judge heard.
The article had “tried, convicted and sentenced” Depp on an allegation that he has always said was “completely untrue”. That was why he had brought the case, “subjecting himself to this painful, public process”.
Sherborne added: “He has never hit a woman in his entire life, period, full stop, nada.” Crucially, he had also never been accused of it, apart from by Heard, he added.
The court required “compelling and cogent evidence” before finding someone was guilty of a serious criminal offence. This was particularly important “where there are two diametrically opposed accounts”, said Sherborne. “One side is obviously lying and one side is telling the truth.”
The court had heard “astonishingly self-serving and fictionalised” accounts of what Heard was thinking at the time of the alleged violence, in an unsent email she wrote, and also in her “secret feelings book that reads more like a novella than anything which matches reality”, he said.
Heard had taken secret footage of Depp kicking a kitchen sink. But, in all the years of violence that she alleges “when she has her phone at the ready, where is the secret recording of Mr Depp knocking seven bells out of her, grabbing her by the throat, pulling her by the hair, screaming at her?” he said.
Of photographs taken by Heard’s friends allegedly showing injuries caused by Depp, he said: “They are taken of an actress, someone who is familiar with the use of makeup.”
The fact Depp had a history of consuming alcohol and drugs was not “newsworthy”, and he had been “candid” about his use of certain substances. Heard, he added, had “deliberately sought to hide or play down her misuse of drink or illegal drugs”.
Judgment in the case will be delivered at a later date.