Famous Hollywood actor Johnny Depp has sued the publisher of The Sun, News Group Newspapers (NGN), and executive editor Dan Wootton, over an April 2018 article that referred to him as a “wife-beater”.
Mr. Depp has strenuously denied that he was violent towards Ms. Heard. But NGN lawyers said the “wife beater” description was “entirely accurate”. Both Mr. Depp and Ms. Heard were in court in London on Tuesday morning.
Depp’s lawyers had asked the judge to keep Heard from attending the trial until the 34-year-old actress and model appears to give evidence, arguing that her testimony would be more reliable if she were not present in court when Depp was being cross-examined.
In a court order published on Saturday, trial judge Andrew Nicol said that excluding Heard from the London courtroom before she testifies in the case “would inhibit the defendants in the conduct of their defense.”
The judge noted it is News Group and Wootton, and not Heard, that is defending the claim while conceding they will be relying “heavily” on what Heard says.
In a written outline of the Hollywood star’s case, his barrister, David Sherborne, said the article made “defamatory allegations of the utmost seriousness” against Mr. Depp, accusing him of committing serious assaults on Ms. Heard and “inflicting such serious injuries that she feared for her life”.
Mr. Sherborne said: “The articles amount to a full-scale attack on the claimant as a ‘wife beater’, guilty of the most horrendous physical abuse. The claimant’s position is clear – Ms. Heard’s allegations are complete lies. The claimant was not violent towards Ms. Heard, it was she who was violent to him.”
The trial, which was postponed from March because of the coronavirus pandemic, is scheduled to start Tuesday and to last three weeks.
Other witnesses are likely to include Depp’s ex-partners Vanessa Paradis and Winona Ryder, who have both submitted statements supporting the Pirates of the Caribbean star.
On the career front, Johnny Depp is set to reprise his role in the third Fantastic Beasts movie. Amber Heard will be appearing in the sequel of DC superhero movie Aquaman.