Depp fails in bid to appeal ‘wife beater’ libel ruling in UK
independent.ie– London’s Court of Appeal yesterday refused Johnny Depp permission to challenge a verdict last year that concluded he was a “wife beater”, meaning his attempt to restore his reputation will shift to US legal action.
In November, High Court judge Andrew Nicol ruled against Mr Depp, the star of films including Pirates of the Caribbean, after he brought a libel case against The Sun newspaper.
After three weeks of hearings last summer, judge Nicol concluded that Mr Depp (57) had violently assaulted his ex-wife, actress Amber Heard (34), during a tempestuous five-year relationship, putting her in fear of her life.
“As we have said, it is not easy to persuade this court to overturn the findings of a trial judge on purely factual questions,” the two Court of Appeal judges said in their judgment.
“We do not believe that there is a real prospect of it being prepared to do so in this case.”
Last week, Mr Depp’s lawyers said Judge Nicol’s ruling was “plainly wrong” and asked to rely on new evidence they said showed Ms Heard’s claim that she had donated her divorce settlement to charity was “a calculated and manipulative lie”.
However, the Court of Appeal said the hearings before Judge Nicol last summer were fair, his reasons were thorough and there had been no error of law. Mr Depp’s lawyer said he would now focus on a US case he has brought against Ms Heard.
In her evidence to the High Court, Ms Heard said Mr Depp would turn into a jealous alter-ego, “the monster”, after bingeing on drugs and alcohol and had threatened to kill her.
She detailed 14 occasions of extreme violence when she said the actor choked, punched, slapped, head-butted, throttled and kicked her, with Judge Nicol accepting 12 of these accounts as true.
“We are pleased – but by no means surprised – by the court’s denial of Mr Depp’s application for appeal,” a spokeswoman for Ms Heard said, saying her evidence was “overwhelming and undeniable”.
The Sun said the decision vindicated the evidence Ms Heard gave, saying it had been confident that permission to appeal would be refused.
The libel case has already damaged Mr Depp’s career, as he was asked to leave the Fantastic Beasts franchise, the movie spin-offs from the Harry Potter books and films, days after Judge Nicol’s verdict.
However, he has also filed a $50m (€42.5m) defamation lawsuit against Ms Heard in a Virginia court over an opinion piece she wrote in The Washington Post, and that case is ongoing.
“The evidence presented at last week’s hearing further demonstrates that there are clear and objective reasons to seriously question the decision reached in the UK court,” Mr Depp’s British lawyer Joelle Rich said in a statement.
“Mr Depp looks forward to presenting the complete, irrefutable evidence of the truth in the US libel case against Ms Heard where she will have to provide full disclosure.”