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Image / Agenda / Breaking Stories

What’s happening with Johnny Depp and Amber Heard in court now?


by Holly O'Neill
19th Mar 2021

Read time: 3 minutes

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Johnny Depp is seeking to appeal his "wife-beater" ruling.

Johnny Depp’s libel case is back in court again as he seeks to apply for permission to appeal the High Court ruling that he assaulted his ex-wife Amber Heard.

In a high profile trial last July, Johnny Depp sued publishers NGN Newspapers over a column calling him a “wife-beater” regarding allegations made by Heard. Amber Heard gave evidence in the trial and in November, the judge found the article to be “substantially true”. This week, Johnny Depp took his case to the Court of Appeal to apply for permission to appeal the judgment. Neither Johnny Depp, 57, or Amber Heard, 34, were present for the hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.

In court, Depp’s lawyers said that a claim by Amber Heard that she gave all of her $7m divorce settlement with Depp to charity was a “calculated and manipulative lie” to influence the trial. Amber Heard said she would be donating the $7m to charity, with the money to be divided between the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Depp’s lawyers say that Amber Heard has only given $100,000 to the hospital and $450,000 to the ACLU.

In a witness statement in the trial, Amber Heard said that “the entire amount of my divorce settlement was donated to charity.” Depp’s team say that this claim gave “a considerable boost to her credibility as a person” and “tipped the scales against Mr Depp from the very beginning”. At the end of the hearing last year, Mr Justice Nicol said in his ruling: “Her donation of the seven million US dollars to charity is hardly the act one would expect of a gold-digger.”

Depp’s team told the court: “We say it is a potentially subliminal message – ‘I want him to pay but I don’t want to keep a dime of his money because of the way I have been treated’ – and obviously in the context of this case it implies revulsion at the way he has treated her physically.”

“Her public statements expressly stated that the ACLU donation had victims of domestic violence specifically in mind. The subliminal message of the charity claim was in any event clear: Ms Heard would not wish to keep any of Mr Depp’s money, because he had subjected her to serious violence.”

“The evidence presented, and was obviously intended to present, her in the strongest terms as both virtuous and a victim.”

Depp’s team also stated that the judge did not thoroughly enough examine recordings where Heard appeared to admit to assaulting Depp.

Adam Wolanski QC, representing NGN, stated that “even if the judge had had the fresh evidence and decided it did demonstrate that Ms Heard was a gold-digger”, that did not mean she was not assaulted. He said that it was not true that Heard was lying about donating the divorce settlement and that Heard “pledged to pay over 10 years – that is a donation”.“We are not going to reach an immediate decision today… we will make it very shortly,” the judge said, but did not give any further details on when. Depp is also suing Heard personally over a 2018 Washington Post opinion piece where she claimed to be a victim of domestic abuse but did not mention him by name. 

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