Johnny Depp loses libel case over claims he beat ex-wife Amber Heard

A judge ruled the words "wife beater" to be "substantially true"

Johnny Depp has lost his libel case against The Sun, it has been confirmed.

The actor had been suing News Group Newspapers (NGN) and The Sun’s executive editor Dan Wootton over an April 2018 article which referred to him as a “wife beater” in relation to allegations from ex-wife Amber Heard, claims Depp has strongly denied.

The trial originally took place over 16 days back in July this year at the Royal Courts of Justice, and concerned an article titled ‘Gone Potty: How can JK Rowling be ‘genuinely happy’ casting wife beater Johnny Depp in the new Fantastic Beasts film?’


However, in a ruling today (November 2), Judge Mr Justice Nicol said that he found the words to be “substantially true”.

Johnny Depp
Johnny Depp Credit: Peter Summers/Getty Images

“Although he has proved the necessary elements of his cause of action in libel, the defendants have shown that what they published in the meaning which I have held the words to bear was substantially true,” he said (via BBC News).

Nicol added of Heard’s allegations of 14 instances of abuse: “I have reached these conclusions having examined in detail the 14 incidents on which the defendants rely, as well as the over-arching considerations which the claimant submitted I should take into account.”

A spokesperson for The Sun said following the ruling: “The Sun has stood up and campaigned for the victims of domestic abuse for over 20 years. Domestic abuse victims must never be silenced and we thank the judge for his careful consideration and thank Amber Heard for her courage in giving evidence to the court.”

Amber Heard and Johnny Depp
Amber Heard and Johnny Depp


Heard’s lawyer said in the wake of the ruling: “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. We are committed to obtaining justice for Amber Heard in the US Court and defending Ms Heard’s right to free speech.”

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