Johnny Depp loses his Appeal to overturn a High Court ruling following a landmark libel case that concluded he assaulted his ex-wife Amber Heard and left her in fear for her life.
Following a hearing last week of which neither Depp nor Heard were present, the Court of Appeal, Lord Justice Underhill and Lord Justice Dingemans, on Thursday, refused permission to Depp to appeal against the dismissal of his claim for libel against The Sun’s publisher News Group Newspapers and one of its journalists.
Johnny Depp loses his bid for appeal after a three-week trial and after Mr Justice Nicol dismissed the star’s libel claim against the publisher of The Sun, finding that an April 2018 column calling Mr Depp a ‘wife beater’ was ‘substantially true’. The judge ruled Depp, 57, assaulted Heard, 34, on a dozen occasions and put her in ‘fear for her life’ three times.
The actor asked the Court of Appeal to grant permission for him to challenge the ruling, with the aim of having its findings overturned and a retrial ordered after he claimed he ‘did not receive a fair trial’. Announcing the ruling at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Lord Justice Underhill said: ‘We refuse Mr Depp’s application to admit further evidence in support of his proposed appeal and we conclude that the appeal has no real prospect of success and that there is no other compelling reason for it to be heard. ‘We accordingly refuse permission to appeal.’
Rejecting Depp’s bid to appeal against the ruling, Lord Justice Underhill, sitting with Lord Justice Dingemans, said: ‘As we have said, it is not easy to persuade this court to overturn the findings of a trial judge on purely factual questions. ‘We do not believe that there is a real prospect of it being prepared to do so in this case. ‘The hearing before Nicol was full and fair, and he gave thorough reasons for his conclusions which have not been shown even arguably to be vitiated by any error of approach or mistake of law.’ Following today’s decision, Depp’s lawyer Joelle Rich of Schillings said in a statement to Metro.co.uk:
‘The evidence presented at last week’s hearing (the appeal of Mr. Depp vs. News Group Newspapers LTD) further demonstrates that there are clear and objective reasons to seriously question the decision reached in the UK court. ‘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.’
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Heard said in a statement: ‘We are pleased – but by no means surprised – by the Court’s denial of Mr. Depp’s application for an appeal. The evidence presented in the UK case was overwhelming and undeniable.
‘To reiterate, the original verdict was that Mr. Depp committed domestic violence against Amber on no fewer than 12 occasions and she was left in fear of her life. The verdict and lengthy, well-reasoned Judgment, including the Confidential Judgment, have been affirmed. Mr. Depp’s claim of new and important evidence was nothing more than a press strategy, and has been soundly rejected by the Court.’
In his judgment, Mr Justice Nicol concluded 12 of the 14 alleged incidents of domestic violence relied on by NGN in its defence of the actor’s claim did occur. Days after the ruling in November, the actor announced he had been asked by Warner Brothers to resign from his role in the Harry Potter spin-off franchise Fantastic Beasts.
Depp is embroiled in a separate libel battle in the US, having sued Heard personally over a 2018 Washington Post opinion piece in which she claimed to be a victim of domestic abuse but did not mention the actor by name. The actor’s $50million (£35m) US case against Ms Heard was recently delayed until April 2022.