Johnny Depp libel case appeal bid turned down

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Johnny Depp outside the High Court on 17 July 2020Image source, PA Media

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

The Pirates Of The Caribbean actor sued the publisher of the Sun, News Group Newspapers (NGN), for libel over a 2018 article labelling him a "wife beater".

The judge who dismissed Mr Depp's claim this month said an appeal did not have a "reasonable prospect of success".

But he gave him until 7 December to apply directly to the Court of Appeal.

Mr Justice Nicol's ruling on the application to overturn his judgement came last week - and was made public on Wednesday.

He also ordered the actor to make an initial payment to NGN of almost £630,000 for its legal fees.

'Substantially true'

Mr Depp and Ms Heard both gave evidence during the 16-day case at the Royal Courts of Justice in London in July.

The allegations spanned the period between 2013 and 2016, when the couple's relationship ended.

Mr Depp, 57, denied the claims and his lawyer called the judge's ruling "perverse" and announced the actor intended to appeal.

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Amber Heard and Johnny Depp split up in 2016

Mr Depp sued the Sun after a column by its executive editor Dan Wootton referred to "overwhelming evidence" that the actor attacked Ms Heard, 34, during their relationship.

Mr Justice Nicol ruled the newspaper had proved what was in the article to be "substantially true". He found that 12 of the 14 alleged incidents outlined had occurred.

The judge highlighted three incidents where he said Mr Depp had put Ms Heard in "fear for her life".

In one of those incidents, in Australia in 2015, Mr Depp was allegedly physically and verbally abusive towards her while drinking heavily and taking drugs. Mr Depp accused Ms Heard of severing his finger, but the judge said he did not accept Ms Heard was responsible.

The judge rejected a "recurring theme" in Mr Depp's evidence "that Ms Heard had constructed a hoax and that she had done this as an 'insurance policy'," and that she was a "gold-digger".

In the April 2018 column, the Sun asked how author JK Rowling could be "genuinely happy" that Mr Depp had been cast in the latest film in the Fantastic Beasts franchise she had written, amid allegations made by Ms Heard.

After losing the case, Mr Depp said he had left the franchise, adding he had been "asked to resign" from his role as Gellert Grindelwald and had "respected that and agreed to that request".