By James Simons-
The representation of Johnny Depp as a “wife-beater” was “one-sided” and “not researched at all”, the actor’s lawyer told the High Court in London today.
In submissions for Mr Depp, David Sherborne condemned Britain’s most widely read paper, stating that the news outlet acted as “both judge and jury”, having not researched the story at all.
Mr Depp is suing the newspaper’s publisher and editor for libel, accusing them of publishing a “completely untrue” allegation.
The Sun’s lawyers said on Monday stood firmly by their story, saying there was “no doubt” he had “systematically abused” his former wife Amber Heard.
Around 30 fans of the actor were gathered in the main hall of the Royal Courts of Justice, screaming as the 57-year-old Hollywood star entered the building on the final day of the high-profile British libel case. The dramatic case has kept the court highly focused on various facts placed before it,
Mr Depp is suing News Group Newspapers (NGN) – publisher of the Sun – and executive editor Dan Wootton, over an article published on the Sun’s website on 27 April 2018 with the headline: “Gone Potty: How can JK Rowling be ‘genuinely happy’ casting wife beater Johnny Depp in the new Fantastic Beasts film?”
Johnny Depp has lost “nothing less than everything” as a result of “appalling allegations” that he was violent to ex-wife Amber Heard,Mr. Sherpton told the High Court, on the final day of the star’s mega libel action against The Sun newspaper.
It is important to the star to clear his name, his lawyers said, adding: “This is not about money, this is vindicating him.”
The comments, made in Court 13 of the Royal Courts of Justice, came as Ms Heard stood on the steps outside and said she stood by her evidence and would “place her faith in British justice”.
The highest English libel trial of the 21st century, which included claims of brutal violence and sensational revelations about a tempestuous Hollywood marriage, came to a close after weeks of sensational drama.
In closing submissions , Mr Sherborne also launched a stinging attack on Ms Heard, 34, accusing her of being a “compulsive liar”.
Ms Heard has proven herself to be a wholly unreliable witness and, frankly, a compulsive liar.
In his final remarks, Mr Sherborne said: “What is important to Mr Depp is clearing his name of these appalling allegations, expanded on as it has been over the last four years, as a result of which he has lost nothing less than everything, he would say.
“When I say he has lost everything, to him obviously everything is his reputation. This is not about money, this is vindicating him.”
Amber Heard and Johnny Depp marriage lasted 2 years between 2015 and 2017. Image:Reuters: Stefano Rellandini)
Mr Sherborne told the court it is “common ground” that Ms Heard’s credibility is “key”, adding: “It is the defendants who bear the burden of proof.”
“We say from the big points even to the smaller ones, Ms Heard has proven herself to be a wholly unreliable witness and, frankly, a compulsive liar – and I don’t say that lightly.
“Firstly, she has lied about the incidents, tailoring her story to meet the evidence adduced against her, changing dates or splitting incidents where the evidence disproving her account required her to do so rather than admit what is untrue.
“Secondly, she has added further details to incidents, details nowhere referred to in any of the vast amount of documentation gathered in this case.
“Thirdly, Ms Heard has invented incidents, whole incidents, sometimes based around retro-engineering texts, and they have come out of nowhere.”
Earlier, Mr Sherborne had referred to evidence given by Ms Heard that Mr Depp had thrown his former girlfriend Kate Moss down the stairs.
The barrister said: “In yet another moment of unscripted malevolence, she tossed in a total lie… namely that she was scared for her sister and, terrified, punched Mr Depp because in that moment she remembered a rumour about Kate Moss.”
Amber Heard and Johnny Depp were married between 2015 and 2017.(Reuters: Stefano Rellandini)
Mr Sherborne said it was a “gratuitous and totally invented” and told the judge there was no better example of “the nature of the witness whose credibility the defendants’ case is so heavily dependent on”.
The lawyer also made reference to exaggerated texts ., which he said should not be taken literally.”
“He may use poetic licence, he may use metaphors, but he never ever says that he hit Miss Heard.”
Mr Depp had been candid about his drug and alcohol intake, Mr Sherborne said, but denied they unleashed a “monster” in him.
“Come home. Don’t be the monster, be the man,” Ms Heard said in a text from September 2015.
“I won’t allow myself to be in such unstable, volatile and capricious conditions,” Mr Depp said in reply.
“I won’t stand there and allow you to take pot shots at my face.”
Mr Sherborne said the allegation that Mr Depp had an evil alter ego, as in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, was false.
“I don’t know any version of that myth which involves the monster running away from the fight,” he said.
Ms Heard gave a statement outside the court, saying it had been painful to relive the break-up and have her truth and motives questioned.
“I stand by my testimony, and I now place my faith in British justice,” she said.
A date for the ruling was not given.
It has been incredibly painful to relive the break-up of my relationship, have my motives and my truth questioned, and the most traumatic and intimate details of my life with Johnny shared in court and broadcast around the world. He said Ms Heard was “financially independent” and was an “actress surrounded by adoring fans”, but nevertheless “got engaged to and married Mr Depp, despite his endless violence, apparently”.
The barrister added: “I’m sorry – there are many, many victims of domestic violence and different situations, but this is a huge disservice to those genuine victims, as well as the MeToo movement, for Ms Heard to count herself as one of them, as she plainly does.”
In reference to evidence revealed to the court in relation to drink and drugs,Mr Sherborne saying the actor “never denies taking controlled drugs or consuming alcohol”.
“He admitted it and, if occasionally he was mistaken or forgot exactly when he stopped taking something… it is quite hard to see why that would make any material difference given how candid he has been about his use of certain substances,” Mr Sherborne said.
“The defendants’ case has to be more than that he took controlled drugs or that he consumed alcohol.”
Burden Of Proof
Mr Sherborne reminded the judge that the burden of proof rests on NGN to prove what it published and said there is a higher standard of proof for the allegations because many are criminal in nature.
The barrister added: “This court requires compelling and cogent evidence before it will find that an allegation that someone is guilty of a serious criminal offence is true.”
Shortly after 4pm, Ms Heard made a statement outside the law courts.
She said: “I did not file this lawsuit and, despite its significance, I would have preferred not to be here in court.
“It has been incredibly painful to relive the break-up of my relationship, have my motives and my truth questioned, and the most traumatic and intimate details of my life with Johnny shared in court and broadcast around the world.
“I stand by my testimony and I now place my faith in British justice.”
On Monday, lawyers for NGN made their closing submissions, with barrister Sasha Wass QC telling the court that the defence is “one of truth, namely that Mr Depp did indeed beat his wife”.
She said: “For the defence of truth to be substantiated, the defendants need to prove on a balance of probabilities that Mr Depp assaulted Ms Heard on at least one occasion.
“During the last two weeks, the defendants have established that many more than one incident of wife-beating took place over the course of the relationship between the claimant (Mr Depp) and Amber Heard.”
NGN is defending the article as true, and says Mr Depp was “controlling and verbally and physically abusive towards Ms Heard, particularly when he was under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs”.
Mr Justice Nicol reserved judgement without revealing when he will rule on the case.