Johnny Depp Loses ‘Wife Beater’ Libel Case After Domestic Violence Accusations
On Monday, Johnny Depp lost the libel case he filed in London against The Sun for running an article calling him a “wife-beater” in relation to his ex-wife, Amber Heard. The case was ugly, pulling both actors’ private lives and details about their relationship into the limelight.
Depp and Heard met when the actress was just 22 and the actor was 45 with two children. The pair married a few years later. Soon after, Heard filed for a restraining order against Depp for abuse and divorced the actor. Heard’s abuse allegations were widely publicized, even more so after Depp vehemently denied them, stating Heard was the one who abused him.
After the UK tabloid The Sun ran the article about Depp and Heard’s relationship, Depp filed a defamation lawsuit in London court. Unlike in the U.S., the burden of proof for libel is on the accused in the U.K. — in other words, The Sun had to prove what they published about Depp was true.
Ultimately, the defendants succeeded in proving what they published was “substantially true” and the court issued a ruling online stating there was “overwhelming evidence” that the actor had indeed assaulted the Heard repeatedly during their marriage.
The assaults “must have been terrifying,” the judge wrote regarding an incident in which Mr. Depp assaulted Heard several times, including smashing a telephone beside her face. “I accept that Mr. Depp put her in fear of her life,” the judge wrote. She later added, “I also accept that Ms. Heard’s allegations have had a negative effect on her career as an actor and activist.”
The courtroom drama between Heard and Depp is not over yet. Depp also sued Heard for defamation in the U.S. after she published an op-ed in The Washington Post calling herself a survivor of sexual and physical violence.
It’s unclear how Depp’s acting career will be affected in light of the court cases and the fact that he can legally be referred to as a “wife-beater.” The actor currently plays the pivotal character Gellert Grindelwald in J.K. Rowling‘s Harry Potter spin-off prequels, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The article in The Sun that Depp sued over called for Rowling to drop the actor from the series.