The libel trial in the case of Johnny Depp v News Group Newspapers began on Tuesday 7 July 2020 before Mr Justice Nicol, in the familiar surroundings of Court 13 at the Royal Courts of Justice with added social distancing.
Mr Depp is suing the Sun newspaper and journalist Dan Wootton over an article entitled “GONE POTTY: How can JK Rowling be ‘genuinely happy’ casting Johnny Depp in the new Fantastic Beasts film?” He claims that the article means that he was guilty of serious physical abuse of his ex-wife, Amber Heard. The defendants say that the allegations are true and will call Ms Heard to give evidence. She has provided details of 14 occasions during their relationship when she claims she was assaulted by Mr Depp. He denies that he ever hit Ms Heard.
After opening statements by the parties, Mr Depp was called to give evidence. He was cross-examined by Sasha Wass QC for the defendants. The first day of his evidence was described by the Guardian as “one-word answers”, with his “deliberate speech” contrasting with the “barrage of accusations” being made against him. He admitted heavy drinking but denied abusing Ms Heard. He claimed that Ms Heard’s domestic abuse claims were part of a “conspiracy”.
Mr Depp’s cross-examination continued on the second day, Wednesday 8 July 2020. Mr Depp accused Ms Heard of “building a dossier” against him as an “insurance policy”. He was accused of suffering “blackouts” and having no recollection of his violence because of drinking and drug-taking.
After Mr Depp’s evidence the Court heard from a Los Angeles Police Department officer, Melissa Saenz, giving evidence by videolink. She said that she had seen no injuries to Ms Heard when she attended on 21 May 2016.
- The Claimant’s Skeleton Argument [pdf]
- The Claimant’s Opening Statement [pdf]
- The Defendant’s Skeleton Argument [pdf]
- The Defendant’s Opening Statement [pdf]
The trial will resume on Monday 13 July 2020 and is listed for a total of 3 weeks.