Ruling due in Johnny Depp’s blockbuster libel action against the Sun newspaper
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Johnny Depp is due to find out if he has won his blockbuster libel case against the Sun newspaper over an article which labelled him a “wife beater”.
The Pirates Of The Caribbean star is suing the tabloid’s publisher, News Group Newspapers (NGN), and its executive editor, Dan Wootton, over the 2018 article, which referred to “overwhelming evidence” that he attacked ex-wife Amber Heard during their relationship – which he strenuously denies.
The biggest English libel trial of the 21st century garnered worldwide attention as it unfolded over three weeks in July at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.
Mr Depp, 57, will find out the outcome of his case as trial judge Mr Justice Nicol delivers his long-awaited ruling on Monday.
The judgment will be delivered remotely and it is not known if any of the parties will attend court.
Mr Depp and Ms Heard, 34, attended the 16-day trial, which featured days of high drama, claims of brutal violence and sensational revelations about their tempestuous relationship.
The court heard evidence from both stars, along with friends and relatives of the couple, and several former and current employees.
Mr Depp spent around 20 hours in the witness box over five days, facing intense questioning about his Hollywood lifestyle, his use of drink and drugs, allegations of violence, and his friendships and associations with famous faces including Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards and musician Sir Elton John.
In closing arguments, Mr Depp’s barrister, David Sherborne, said his client’s case was about vindication.
He 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.”
Sasha Wass QC, for NGN, argued there is “no doubt that Mr Depp regularly and systematically abused his wife.
“The characterisation that he is a wife-beater is entirely truthful.”
As the trial drew to a close, Ms Heard stood outside on the steps of the High Court and said she stood by her evidence and would “place her faith in British justice”.
In an April 2018 column in the Sun, executive editor Wootton asked how Harry Potter author JK Rowling could be “genuinely happy” that Mr Depp had been cast in the latest film in the Fantastic Beasts spin-off franchise amid the allegations by Ms Heard.
The Pirates Of The Caribbean star denies ever having been violent to Ms Heard, and claims the article included quotes from alleged victims of disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein in order to “finish his career” by linking the allegations against him to the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements.
NGN is defending the article as true and says Mr Depp was “controlling and verbally and physically abusive towards Ms Heard, particularly when he was under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs” between early 2013 and May 2016, when the couple split.