Actor Johnny Depp Takes on UK Tabloid in Court Battle over “Wife Beater” Claims

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Johnny Depp begins legal action against a British tabloid today in a case that is likely to delve into the private lives of the Hollywood star, his ex-wife actress Amber Heard and a number of other well-known figures.

Depp, the 57-year-old star of the Pirates of the Caribbean films, is suing the Sun’s publisher, News Group Newspapers, and its executive editor, Dan Wootton, for libel over an article Wootton wrote in 2018 calling him a “wife beater”.

The case, which will be heard at London’s High Court, is set to last for three weeks, and both actors are expected to give evidence.

The couple met on the set of the 2011 film The Rum Diary and married in February 2015. But she filed for divorce after just 15 months and days later obtained a restraining order against him. She has accused him of physical abuse during their relationship, allegations he denies.

Their divorce was finalised in 2017 when the restraining order was dismissed, and Depp agreed to pay her a previously announced sum of US$7 million (RM29.9 million).

Last week, the Sun failed in a bid to have the libel case thrown out despite the judge concluding that Depp had not fully complied with a court order by not supplying details of mobile phone texts to his assistant which the paper’s legal team said referred to obtaining drugs for the actor.

The judge, Andrew Nicol, has also ruled that Heard, who is expected to attend the trial, can be in court to hear her ex-husband testify.

In his judgements, Nicol has said the Sun would rely on witness statements from Heard and others, arguing that its stories were true.

“In those articles, it is said, the Defendants accused the Claimant of multiple acts of physical violence against Ms Heard, some of which, it is alleged the articles said, put Ms Heard in fear of her life,” Nicol said.