These days Johnny Depp is more focused on legal battles than he is the kind that involve pirate ships in the movies. The court fight between Depp and ex-wife Amber Heard has been running on multiple fronts, but one of those challenges just hit a brick wall. Last fall a libel case between Depp and the U.K. paper The Sun, which referred to the actor in its pages as a "wife-beater" ended in a ruling against the actor. Depp's side appealed, but now a U.K. court has denied that appeal.
The appeals court ruled that the original trial was "full and fair" and that the judge's decisions "have not been shown even arguably to be vitiated by any error of approach or mistake of law." The Depp legal team had argued that Amber Heard had yet to donate the full $7 million from her divorce settlement, as she had claimed, and thus had lied in court, but the appeals court did not find that sufficient grounds to let the appeal go forward. While the question about whether the statements were misleading was left open, Deadline reports the court found no reason to believe the judge's decision was influenced by the statements.
The libel case verdict was a major blow to Johnny Depp the first time around, as it was almost immediately following the original case that Depp was removed from the cast of the Fantastic Beasts franchise. The original verdict found in favor of The Sun because it found Amber Heard's claims of abuse at the hands of Depp "substantially true."
The legal fight between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard is far from over, however. While this libel case may finally be settled, a defamation lawsuit against Heard by Depp is set to be heard in Virginia in April 2022. Heard has also filed a defamation countersuit against Depp. Depp's suit is based in a Washington Post editorial where she revealed that she had been the victim of domestic abuse. While she never names the alleged perpetrator, the connection to Depp was made by many, and he blames the editorial for costing him his lucrative role as Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.
Amber Heard's countersuit is also tied to a major movie franchise. Her suit claims that she has been the target of a smear campaign, one of the aims of which is to get her fired from Aquaman 2. The countersuit has also brought Disney into the mix, as a subpoena has been filed in an attempt to access information about the production of the most recent Pirates of the Caribbean film. Heard has claimed she was taken "hostage" by the actor during filming.
With the libel case looking to be finally in the rear view mirror, and the defamation case over a year away, it's possible things might go a little quiet on the legal front for both Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, though there will almost certainly be more filings on the latter case over the next several months.
Following the ruling, Johnny Depp's UK lawyer Joelle Rich issued a statement saying the legal team is looking forward to the upcoming US litigation. You can read the statement below...
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.