FILE - In this file photo dated Tuesday, July 28, 2020, American actress Amber Heard, former wife of actor Johnny Depp, gestures as she gives a statement after the end of the trial outside the High Court in London. A British judge is set to deliver his judgement in writing on Monday Nov. 2, 2020, deciding whether a tabloid newspaper defamed Depp by calling him a “wife beater.” (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali, FILE)

FILE - In this file photo dated Tuesday, July 28, 2020, American actress Amber Heard, former wife of actor Johnny Depp, gestures as she gives a statement after the end of the trial outside the High Court in London. A British judge is set to deliver his judgement in writing on Monday Nov. 2, 2020, deciding whether a tabloid newspaper defamed Depp by calling him a “wife beater.” (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali, FILE)

Ruling due in Depp’s high-stakes libel suit against tabloid

LONDON — A British judge will decide Monday whether a tabloid newspaper defamed Johnny Depp by calling him a “wife beater,” a ruling with huge implications for the careers of both Depp and former spouse Amber Heard.

Justice Andrew Nicol is due to deliver his judgement in writing, three months after the end of a trial that exposed stark details of the Hollywood couple’s tempestuous marriage. There will be no in-person hearing because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Depp sued News Group Newspapers, publisher of The Sun, and the newspaper’s executive editor, Dan Wootton, at London’s High Court over an April 2018 article that accused him of assaulting Heard, an actress whose films include “Justice League” and “Aquaman.”

Both Depp and Heard spent several days in the witness box during the three-week trial in July, giving irreconcilable accounts of their volatile relationship. The pair met on the set of 2011 comedy “The Rum Diary” and married in Los Angeles in 2015. They separated the following year and divorced in 2017.

Heard, 34, testified as the main witness for the defence, saying Depp turned into a violent alter ego he dubbed the “Monster” when under the influence of alcohol and drugs. She alleged 14 separate incidents between 2013 and 2016 in which he hit, slapped and shoved her, pulled her hair and threw bottles at her. The alleged assaults took place in glamorous settings including the couple’s luxury penthouse, Depp’s private island in the Bahamas and an executive jet.

Depp, 57, branded he allegations “sick” and a “hoax” and claimed Heard was the aggressor during their relationship. He claimed that Heard hit him, even severing the tip of his finger with a thrown vodka bottle during an altercation in Australia during filming of a “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie.

Depp acknowledged heavy drug use, saying he took marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy and magic mushrooms, and became addicted to opioid painkillers. But he denied that drugs made him violent.

“I am certainly not a violent person, especially with women,” he said.

Sasha Wass, lawyer for News Group Newspapers, said there was “no doubt that Mr. Depp regularly and systematically abused his wife.”

Heard insisted she was telling the truth and said she had spoken out reluctantly.

“What woman has ever benefited from being a victim of domestic violence?” she asked in court.

Depp’s lawyer, David Sherborne, accused Heard of wrongly donning the mantle of the #MeToo movement and called her “a wholly unreliable witness and frankly a compulsive liar.”

Both sides offered testimony from friends and former employees to back their version of events, and the judge must decide which account is more credible.

If Depp loses, his career may never recover. If he wins, he is likely to get only a modest sum in damages. But Sherborne told the court “this is not a case about money. It is about vindication.”

Mark Stephens, a media lawyer at the law firm Howard Kennedy, said, in the end, “both parties are going to lose this case.”

“The reputations of both Johnny Depp and Amber Heard are tarnished irrevocably,” Stephens said. “I think that it’s going to persist, because whoever wins in this case, the way in which this case was presented, the issues that came up, particularly around gendered presentation of the case, I think that’s going to be studied for years to come.”

Depp is also suing Heard for $50 million in Virginia over a Washington Post story about domestic violence. The trial is due to be held next year.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer RCMP say a 30-year-old man faces sexual charges against a teen. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Man killed in two-vehicle collision near Penhold, says Blackfalds RCMP

A 46-year-old man is dead following a two-vehicle collision on Highway 42… Continue reading

(Photo by Paul Cowley/ Advocate Staff)
Mask bylaws not popular in rural areas

Red Deer and Blackfalds bylaws requiring masks in public places kick in on Monday

Red Deer RCMP say a 30-year-old man faces sexual charges against a teen. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Innisfail RCMP arrest man following ‘lengthy pursuit’

Innisfail RCMP say a “lengthy pursuit” through a rural area ended with… Continue reading

hay
Hay’s Daze: Giraffe knows filling wishes can sometimes be a tall order

Last weekend, I had a lovely breakfast. “So what?” you may say.… Continue reading

A person enters a building as snow falls in Ottawa, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. Ottawa has been successful in limiting the spread of COVID-19 during its second wave thanks to the city’s residents who have been wearing masks and staying home, said Ottawa’s medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
People to thank for Ottawa’s success with curbing COVID-19: health officer

The city’s chief medical officer said much of the credit goes to the people who live in Ottawa

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh asks a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says tonight's public video gaming session with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is about reaching young people where they hang. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
NDP leader stoked over ‘epic crossover’ in video gaming sesh with AOC

Singh and AOC discussed importance of universal pharmacare, political civility, a living wage

A south view of the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf breaking apart is seen from Ward Hunt Island, Nunavut, in an Aug. 20, 2011, handout photo. The remote area in the northern reach of the Nunavut Territory, has seen ice cover shrink from over 4 metres thick in the 1950s to complete loss, according to scientists, during recent years of record warming. Scientists are urging the federal government to permanently protect a vast stretch of Canada's remotest High Arctic called the Last Ice Area. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-CEN/Laval University, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Scientists urge permanent protection of Last Ice Area in Canada’s High Arctic

Tuvaijuittuq has the thickest and oldest ice in the Arctic

In this file photo, a lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018. (By THE CANADIAN PRESS)
No winning ticket for Friday night’s $55 million Lotto Max jackpot

No winning ticket was sold for the $55 million jackpot in Friday… Continue reading

In this Friday, March 13, 2020, photo, Nic Talbott looks up from his computer at his home in Lisbon, Ohio. Talbott was participating in an Army ROTC program after an Obama administration policy permitted transgender people already serving in the military to be allowed to do so openly. As vice president in 2012, Joe Biden endeared himself to many LGBTQ Americans by endorsing same-sex marriage even before Obama. Now, as president-elect, Biden is making sweeping promises to LGBTQ activists, proposing to carry out virtually every major proposal on their wish lists. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Biden plans swift moves to protect and advance LGBTQ rights

As vice-president in 2012, Joe Biden endeared himself to many LGBTQ Americans… Continue reading

Canadian Olympic gymnast and National Sport School alumni Kyle Shewfelt announces his retirement in Calgary, Thursday, May 21, 2009. Calgary's board of education will close the National Sport School that has produced Olympic and Paralympic champions for 26 years. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Calgary’s National Sport School to close, looks to join a different school division

Calgary’s National Sport School to close, looks to join a different school division

Canada's Erica Wiebe, left, celebrates after defeating Nigeria's Blessing Onyebuchi, right on the ground, to win Gold medal in women's FS 76Kg wrestling at the Commonwealth Games on Gold Coast, Australia, Thursday, April 12, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Manish Swarup
Canada’s Olympic champion wrestler Erica Wiebe eyes return to competition

Canada’s Olympic champion wrestler Erica Wiebe eyes return to competition

Most Read