Johnny Depp's Drama Goes on Trial

Actor suing British tabloid for libel over domestic violence claims
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 7, 2020 8:07 AM CDT
Johnny Depp's Libel Trial Begins
Actress Amber Heard, center, arrives at the High Court in London, on Tuesday.   (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

The Sun newspaper will rely on 14 separate allegations of domestic violence against Johnny Depp in defense of libel claims, beginning Tuesday. Depp is suing News Group Newspapers and Sun executive editor Dan Wootton over an April 2018 article that painted the actor as a "wife beater." The article included claims of physical abuse by ex-wife Amber Heard, who received a restraining order against the actor in 2016 after showing up in court with bruises. NGN says it will cite 14 allegations of abuse from early 2013 to May 2016, per the Guardian. Depp's lawyer denied the abuse Tuesday, saying "it was she who was violent to him," per the BBC. Both Depp and Heard were present as the trial kicked off at the High Court in London, spread across five court rooms to allow for physical distancing, but it was Depp who was called as the first witness.

He was asked about a recording of a conversation with Heard on Sept. 26, 2015, and responded that both parties recorded conversations during their relationship, per the BBC. He disputed Heard's statement that her recordings were meant "to remind Johnny of what he would do when using drugs and alcohol." The 2018 article claimed Depp had lost part of a finger during an "alcohol and drug-addled rage" against Heard in 2015. NGN's lawyers say text messages show Depp was trying to find drugs around that time. "This is a critical case for Depp as his entire career is at risk," Emily Cox, an expert in defamation cases, tells the Guardian. That said, "London is an attractive place for celebrities to bring claims as English defamation laws are known to be claimant-friendly." The trial is expected to last three weeks and include evidence from Depp's former lovers. (More Johnny Depp stories.)

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