Johnny Depp’s libel battle with British tabloid newspaper The Sun will go ahead next week after a High Court judge ruled in his favor, despite the Pirates Of The Caribbean star failing to disclose a series of explosive texts related to the case.
Depp is suing Dan Wootton, the executive editor of The Sun, and the Rupert Murdoch-owned British tabloid’s publisher, News Group Newspapers, for defamation over an article in April 2018 that referred to him as a “wife-beater” following allegations made by his ex-wife Amber Heard. Depp strenuously denies Heard’s claims.
His case was thrown into peril on Monday, however, when judge Mr Justice Nicol ruled that he should have disclosed a series of text messages showing him apparently trying to obtain drugs while in Australia with Heard in March 2015. The exchanges between Depp and his assistant, Nathan Holmes, took place shortly before Heard claimed she was subjected to a “three-day ordeal of physical assaults” from Depp while he was “under the influence of drink and/or drugs.”
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But following a rescue bid by Depp’s legal team, during which they acknowledged and apologized for breaching the court order, Mr Justice Nicol said the case can proceed to a full three-week trial at the Royal Courts of Justice in London from July 7.
The judge said that the ruling was subject to Depp “not seeking sanctions against Heard” for “any breach of the Virginia protective order because of such assistance as she has already or may in the course of this litigation give to the defendants.” This is a reference to separate libel proceedings Depp is bringing against Heard in the U.S., from which News Group Newspapers obtained a copy of the “drug texts.”
Mr Justice Nicol also denied Depp an application for disclosure against Heard. Depp’s attorneys wanted the actress to produce recordings of exchanges between the former couple, as well as photographs taken by Heard showing alleged damage to property caused by Depp “in the course of his violent attacks.”
A transcript of one of the recordings, which is said to have been captured in July 2016, is disputed by Depp and News Group Newspapers. In one exchange, News Group Newspaper claims Heard said, “You can throw a punch but yet screaming’s okay,” whereas Depp claims she actually said, “You can’t throw a punch but yet screaming’s okay.” Depp’s lawyers say that his version is consistent with his claim that Heard “was violent to him and he did not punch her.”