July 19, 2020 / 11:23 PM / 25 days ago

Factbox: Johnny Depp's libel case - The evidence so far

LONDON (Reuters) - Johnny Depp is suing the publisher of Britain’s Sun newspaper and its executive editor Dan Wootton for libel over an article that described the movie star as a “wife beater”.

FILE PHOTO: Actor Johnny Depp arrives at the High Court in London, Britain July 16, 2020. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

Depp has given five days of testimony. This week, London’s High Court will hear from Amber Heard, Depp’s ex-wife, who has accused him of abuse - an accusation he denies.

Here are some of the details the court heard and background to the case:

DEPP AND HEARD

Depp, 57, and Heard, 34, met on the set of the 2011 film “The Rum Diary” and married in February 2015. Heard filed for divorce after 15 months, and days later obtained a restraining order against him.

Their divorce was finalised in 2017 and the restraining order was dismissed.

THE SUN’S CASE

The Sun’s lawyers told the court they would show the allegation in the article was true and that Depp had beaten Heard during violent rages brought on by alcohol or drugs, sometimes when he had falsely accused her of infidelity.

The legal team says he assaulted Heard on at least 14 occasions between 2013-16, including on a private jet and on Depp’s private island in the Bahamas.

DEPP’S CASE

Depp rejects all the allegations that he attacked his wife and says Heard was lying, making up a choreographed hoax as part of an “insurance policy” dossier, and that she had attacked him.

“For the avoidance of any doubt, I have never abused Ms Heard, or, indeed, any other woman, in my life,” Depp said in a written witness statement.

His legal team argues the article caused serious harm to his reputation.

THE ACCUSATIONS

* Sasha Wass, lawyer for the Sun’s publisher News Group Newspapers, said the first assault took place at Heard’s home in March 2013.

Wass told the court Depp had become angry and slapped Heard three times when she mocked one of his tattoos which he had changed from “Winona forever” - a reference to his former girlfriend Winona Ryder - to “Wino forever”.

“That’s not the case, that’s untrue. It didn’t happen,” Depp said. “I don’t recall any argument about any of my tattoos.”

* Wass said Depp subjected his ex-wife to a violent three-day ordeal in March 2015 while in Australia filming for the “Pirates of the Caribbean” series.

Depp denied attacking Heard and said she had thrown a vodka bottle at him during an argument, severing the tip of his finger. He said he then suffered “some species of a nervous breakdown”.

Depp told the court he daubed graffiti around the house with his own blood and paint, using his damaged finger.

* The Sun’s lawyer said Depp assaulted Heard after she became upset that he had turned up late for her 30th birthday party in April 2016.

Depp said he was late because he had been at a meeting with his business managers where he learned he had lost $650 million and owed another $100 million in tax.

He denied assaulting Heard and accused her of attacking him while he was reading in bed.

The day after, a cleaner found faeces in the couple’s bed.

“I was convinced it was Miss Heard herself or one of her cohort involved in leaving human faeces on the bed,” Depp told the court. “I thought it was a strangely, oddly fitting end to the relationship.”

DEPP, DRUGS AND DRINK

Cross-examined by Wass, Depp agreed he had taken “every drug known to man” by the age of 14 and said he had a difficult childhood and struggled to come to terms with his fame and success.

He had “a terrible addiction to nicotine” and was dependent on Roxicodone, an opioid painkiller until 2014 when he sought to end his addiction while in the Bahamas.

He said he used drugs to self-medicate rather than for recreational purposes and spent $30,000 a month on wine.

“THE MONSTER”

Depp, softly spoken in the witness box, said he modelled himself as a “Southern Gentleman” who would never strike a woman.

Wass said Depp would turn into an alternate persona which Heard described as “the monster”.

Depp said “the monster” Heard referred to was when he yelled back at her in arguments. “It would become a screaming match and that was the monster,” he said. “It’s not Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.”

PARADIS AND RYDER

Depp’s former long-term partner Vanessa Paradis and his ex-girlfriend actress Winona Ryder gave witness statements saying he was never violent towards them.

“The idea that he is an incredibly violent person is the farthest thing from the Johnny I knew and loved,” Ryder’s statement said.

Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Andrew Heavens

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