Hollywood star Johnny Depp sued News Group Newspapers (NGN) in 2018 after The Sun newspaper printed an article with the following headline: “Gone Potty: How can JK Rowling be ‘genuinely happy’ casting wife beater Johnny Depp in the new Fantastic Beasts film?” Depp launched an appeal after the court ruled in favor of NGN in November.
Johnny Depp’s lawyers have begun an appeal against a ruling in the UK High Court which rejected his libel lawsuit against The Sun newspaper and its Executive Editor Dan Wootton.
Andrew Caldecott QC, representing Depp, said they had fresh evidence which they believed undermined Amber Heard as a key witness for NGN.
He claimed this evidence suggested Heard had lied about donating her £5 million (US$7 million) divorce settlement from Depp to a number of charities, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a charity which does a lot of work with domestic violence victims.
Depp’s lawyers are seeking permission to appeal from Lord Justice Underhill, Vice President of the Court of Appeal, sitting with Lord Justice Dingemans, at a hearing on Thursday, 18 March.
In his skeleton argument Mr Caldecott said the libel trial judge, Mr Justice Andrew Nicol accepted Ms Heard’s evidence “that she had given that sum [i.e. $7m] away to charity.”
But Mr Caldecott claimed she had not “honored that pledge.”
He said: “A pledge is not the same as giving money. The fact that the divorce settlement was made in instalments, which were completed by 1 st February 2018, does not explain why Ms Heard would only ‘pledge’ to the ACLU to give money over 10 years or have any impact on her failure to honor that pledge.”
During the hearing Mr Caldecott referred to Ms Heard’s statement that: “I don’t want to keep a dime of his money because of the way he treated me.”
He said that “implied revulsion” and he said if the judge accepted she had given away her entire divorce settlement it “tips the scales” and makes her appear to be a “virtuous person” and a “victim.”
Lawyers on behalf of NGN are expected to argue that Ms Heard planned to donate the money in instalments over a number of years.
In April 2018 Mr Wootton wrote an article in The Sun which claimed Depp had beaten his actress wife Amber Heard.
Depp sued The Sun’s owners and the author of the article, claiming it wrongly portrayed him as being guilty of domestic violence.
Depp, 57, has always denied the allegations, which were made during the couple’s 2016 divorce but he lost a defamation lawsuit against NGN – owned by Rupert Murdoch – and was ordered to pay their costs.
In Mr Justice Andrew Nicol’s ruling he said The Sun had acted fairly and had not acted out of “malice” and he said he did not accept the characterization of Amber Heard as “nothing more than a gold-digger.”
But at the Court of Appeal Mr Caldecott suggested the judge had been influenced by thinking she had given away her entire divorce settlement.
In his skeleton argument Mr Caldecott said: “Ms Heard’s fabrication of evidence which enhanced her own credit can be said for that reason to make the potential for injustice the greater.”