Actor launches attempt to overturn high court libel judgment that he assaulted ex-wife Amber Heard
An earlier ruling concluded that 12 of the alleged incidents of domestic violence levelled against Johnny Depp did occur. Photograph: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images
PA Media – The Guardian
Johnny Depp has applied directly to the court of appeal in a bid to overturn a high court ruling that he assaulted his ex-wife Amber Heard and put her in fear for her life.
The Hollywood star sued The Sun’s publisher for libel after a 2018 column by its executive editor Dan Wootton described him as a “wife beater”.
The 57-year-old took legal action against the paper’s parent company, News Group Newspapers (NGN), over the column, which referred to “overwhelming evidence” he attacked Heard, 34, during their relationship.
In November, Mr Justice Nicol dismissed the claim, finding NGN had proved what was in the article was “substantially true”.
The same judge refused Depp permission to appeal later the same month, ruling: “I do not consider that the proposed grounds of appeal have a reasonable prospect of success.”
The judge also ordered the actor to make an initial payment to NGN of almost £630,000 for the publisher’s legal fees.
Nicol gave Depp until 7 December to apply directly to the court of appeal to overturn his judgment.
Depp has now filed an application with the court of appeal, according to a publicly available list of pending appeals.
It is not known what Depp’s grounds of appeal are, or when a decision on his application for permission to appeal is likely to be made.
In his judgment, published in November, Nicol concluded that 12 of the 14 alleged incidents of domestic violence relied on by NGN did occur.
Depp announced just days after the ruling that he was asked by Warner Brothers to resign from his role in the Harry Potter spin-off franchise Fantastic Beasts – the very role which prompted Wootton to ask how JK Rowling could be “genuinely happy” Depp was cast in the film.
In that statement, he said: “The surreal judgment of the court in the UK will not change my fight to tell the truth and I confirm that I plan to appeal.”
His solicitor Jenny Afia, from the Schillings law firm, had said the high court ruling was “as perverse as it is bewildering”, adding: “The judgment is so flawed that it would be ridiculous for Mr Depp not to appeal this decision.”
But Heard’s US lawyer, Elaine Charlson Bredehoft, said: “For those of us present for the London high court trial, this decision and judgment are not a surprise.
“Very soon, we will be presenting even more voluminous evidence in the US.”
Depp is embroiled in a separate libel battle in the US, having sued Heard personally over a 2018 Washington Post opinion piece in which she claimed to be a victim of domestic abuse.