Johnny Depp refused permission to appeal libel verdict

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Johnny DeppImage source, Getty Images
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A judge said Mr Depp's appeal had "no real prospect of success"

Johnny Depp has been refused permission to appeal against a High Court ruling that he assaulted his ex-wife Amber Heard.

Last year, the US actor lost his libel case against the publisher of The Sun over an article that labelled him a "wife beater".

Mr Depp asked the Court of Appeal for permission to challenge the ruling.

But on Thursday, a judge refused his application and said his appeal had "no real prospect of success".

What was the original ruling?

The Sun's article, published in April 2018, was the focus of a three-week trial in July last year.

The 57-year-old sued News Group Newspapers (NGN) - the publisher of The Sun - over the accusation that he was violent towards Ms Heard, but the newspaper maintained its article was accurate.

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A judge found Mr Depp had made Ms Heard "fear for her life"

The Hollywood star's libel claim was dismissed by Mr Justice Nicol, who found The Sun's accusation to be "substantially true" and ruled in the publisher's favour.

The judge found Mr Depp, 57, had assaulted Ms Heard, 34, on a dozen occasions and put her in "fear for her life" three times.

The verdict was not made public until November.

Days after the ruling was announced, Mr Depp announced he had been asked by Warner Brothers to resign from his role in the Harry Potter spin-off franchise Fantastic Beasts.

What happened with Mr Depp's appeal?

The US actor asked the Court of Appeal to grant permission for him to challenge the High Court's ruling, with the aim of having its findings overturned and a retrial ordered.

At a hearing last week, Mr Depp's lawyers asked the court to consider fresh evidence relating to what they said was Ms Heard's claim that she gave her $7m (£5.5m) divorce settlement to charity.

Mr Depp's barrister Andrew Caldecott QC told the court that claim was a "calculated and manipulative lie".

After the couple divorced in 2016, Ms Heard said she would split the $7m between the Children's Hospital Los Angeles and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

But Mr Caldecott said the hospital wrote to Mr Depp's business adviser in 2019 to say Ms Heard had not made "any payments".

The court heard $100,000 (£72,000) was donated to the hospital and $450,000 (£322,000) to the ACLU, but Ms Heard claimed she made a further $500,000 (£358,000) donation to the second charity anonymously.

Ms Heard's legal team has previously said: "Amber has already been responsible for seven figures in donations to charitable causes and intends to continue to contribute and eventually fulfil her pledge."

But Adam Wolanski QC, representing The Sun's publisher News Group Newspapers (NGN), said the new evidence Mr Depp wanted to rely on "would not have had any impact" on the result of the libel trial.

On Thursday, the court refused permission for Mr Depp to appeal.

Speaking at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Lord Justice Underhill said: "We refuse Mr Depp's application to admit further evidence in support of his proposed appeal and we conclude that the appeal has no real prospect of success and that there is no other compelling reason for it to be heard.

"We accordingly refuse permission to appeal."

What has the reaction been?

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A spokeswoman for Amber Heard said the actress and her team were "pleased but not surprised" by the ruling

In a statement after the ruling, a spokeswoman for The Sun said: "The Sun had every confidence that this leave to appeal application would not be granted and are pleased with today's decision.

"The case had a full, fair and proper hearing, and today's decision vindicates the courageous evidence that Amber Heard gave to the court about domestic abuse, despite repeated attempts to undermine and silence her by the perpetrator."

A spokeswoman for Amber Heard said in a statement: "We are pleased - but by no means surprised - by the court's denial of Mr Depp's application for appeal. The evidence presented in the UK case was overwhelming and undeniable."

She added: "Mr Depp's claim of new and important evidence was nothing more than a press strategy, and has been soundly rejected by the court."

In a statement, Mr Depp's solicitor Joelle Rich from the law firm Schillings said: "The evidence presented at last week's hearing 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."

What is the US libel case?

While Thursday's ruling effectively brings to an end Mr Depp's UK court case, the actor is embroiled in a separate libel battle in the US.

He is suing Ms Heard personally over a 2018 Washington Post opinion piece in which she claimed to be a victim of domestic abuse, but did not mention the actor by name.

Mr Depp's $50m (£35m) US case against Ms Heard was recently delayed until April 2022.