Johnny Depp facing second day of questioning in libel claim against The Sun
Johnny Depp faces further questioning on the second day of his high-profile libel claim against The Sun over an article which labelled the Hollywood star a “wife beater”.
The 57-year-old is suing the tabloid’s publisher, News Group Newspapers (NGN), and its executive editor, Dan Wootton, over the 2018 article, which referred to “overwhelming evidence” that he attacked ex-wife Amber Heard, 34, during their relationship – which he strenuously denies.
During the first day of a three-week trial on Tuesday, the High Court in London was given a glimpse of Hollywood as a string of celebrities including the Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards, Sir Elton John, Marilyn Manson and Hunter S Thompson were mentioned.
Mr Depp was quizzed on his drinking and drug abuse, his alleged violent outbursts and his attitudes towards women.
The actor will enter the witness box again on Wednesday, when NGN’s legal team will continue with their cross-examination.
In a written outline of the actor’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.”
He added: “The marriage was at times physical, at her instigation, and on occasions he found it necessary to defend himself from her violence.
“He is not a wife beater and never has been.”
Throughout cross-examination on Tuesday from NGN’s lead counsel, Sasha Wass QC, which covered a wide-ranging series of topics, the star appeared calm and collected, occasionally injecting his answers with humour.
At one point Ms Wass said: “We see you now, very charming and polite and very softly spoken, but there is another side of you, isn’t there, that is less charming?”
Mr Depp said: “I’m afraid that would not be for me to judge.”
He added: “Your statement is quite blanket and it would apply to every single human being.”
Ms Wass suggested that there was a “nasty” side to Mr Depp’s character
She later suggested Mr Depp “regularly engaged in destructive and violent behaviour”, which he denied.
Depp and Ms Heard both arrived on Tuesday at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, where more than 30 photographers were waiting outside the entrance, wearing face coverings.
The actor’s case against NGN and Mr Wootton arises out of the publication of an article on The Sun’s website on April 27 2018 with the headline “Gone Potty: How can JK Rowling be ‘genuinely happy’ casting wife beater Johnny Depp in the new Fantastic Beasts film?”
NGN is defending the article as true and says Mr Depp was “controlling and verbally and physically abusive towards Ms Heard, particularly when he was under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs” between early 2013 and May 2016, when the couple split.
A separate libel claim brought by Mr Depp against Ms Heard in the US, over a December 2018 column in the Washington Post, which said the actress received “the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out” but did not mention Mr Depp by name, is due to begin next January.
The pair met in 2011 and began living together in 2012 before marrying in Los Angeles in February 2015.
Ms Heard obtained a restraining order against Mr Depp in LA shortly after the couple split in 2016 and donated her seven million US dollars (£5.5 million) divorce settlement to charity.