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Justice Andrew Nicol said in his British court ruling that Depp—who had sued the publisher News Group Newspapers and the Sun's executive editor Dan Wootton—has "not succeeded in his action for libel." The suit centered on an article from 2018 in which it was alleged that Depp had physically assaulted Amber Heard, per the Associated Press.. The two were married from 2015 to 2017.
Heard's U.S. legal team said in a statement on Monday that the newly announced British court verdict was "not a surprise" for those who have been keeping tabs on the trial this year. In a separate statement, a rep for the Sun called the verdict a "stunning victory for press freedom." The rep also thanked Heard for "her courage" in providing evidence.
Depp, however, has called the allegations against him a "hoax." He's also alleged that Heard was physically abusive, specifically accusing her of severing the tip of one of his fingers with a vodka bottle. In court documents circa 2019, Depp alleged that Heard was "the perpetrator." A separate $50 million suit from Depp against Heard is set to go to trial in 2021.
Nathan Capone, a dispute resolution lawyer at the London-based law firm Fieldfisher, noted that Depp must now "foot the bill" for the Sun's legal costs following Monday's verdict in the libel trial.
"Depp has the option of applying to the Court of Appeal for permission to appeal but the judgment makes that very difficult; Mr Justice Nicol based his decision on findings of fact against Mr Depp having seen live witness evidence," Capone added. "It is unlikely that the Court of Appeal will interfere with his judgment on that front. Although the findings are ‘on the balance of probabilities’ (the civil standard), the damage is likely to be done in terms of the public's perception."