Johnny Depp’s libel case in the UK against News Group Newspapers, the publisher of tabloid the Sun, will not go back to court after his appeal request was denied.
Depp had taken News Group Newspapers to court after the tabloid called him a “wife beater” when reporting on allegations of domestic abuse, which were leveled at him by his then-wife Amber Heard. Judge Andrew Nicol ruled that labeling him a “wife beater” was fair because the accusation was “substantially true.” Depp’s lawyer Joelle Rich told Deadline that she “seriously questioned” the court’s decision, and Depp will now focus on his defamation trial in the U.S. against Heard next year.
Explaining their decision in a 14-page document shared this morning, appeals judges Lord Justice Dingemans and Lord Justice Underhill said the initial hearing was “full and fair.” They added, “He gave thorough reasons for his conclusions which have not been shown even arguably to be vitiated by any error of approach or mistake of law.” While Heard has alleged that Depp was physically and mentally abusive towards her, Depp has argued the same back.
The appeal rejection comes just months after Depp’s legal team accused Heard of lying about donating $7 million in divorce settlements to charity. When pressed further about the allegations, Heard’s U.S. lawyer admitted the donations had been “delayed” and blamed the delay on Depp’s continued legal action against the actress. On Thursday as part of the appeal ruling, judges indicated there’s no finding to be made regarding whether her statements about such donations were misleading. Depp’s team did not raise the issue at the trial, they argued.
"We are pleased—but by no means surprised—by the Court's denial of Mr. Depp’s application for appeal,” said Heard’s spokesperson. “The evidence presented in the UK case was overwhelming and undeniable. To reiterate, the original verdict was that Mr. Depp committed domestic violence against Amber on no fewer than 12 occasions and she was left in fear of her life. The verdict and lengthy, well-reasoned Judgment, including the Confidential Judgment, have been affirmed. Mr. Depp's claim of new and important evidence was nothing more than a press strategy, and has been soundly rejected by the Court."
Depp’s $50 million defamation trial against Heard was recently delayed to April 11, 2022, while Heard is currently pursuing a $100 million countersuit.