Johnny Depp’s multi-million-dollar US lawsuit against Amber Heard to begin

Depp is suing his former partner over a 2018 op-ed she wrote in the Washington Post, in which she discussed her experiences of domestic abuse
Johnny Depp’s multi-million-dollar US lawsuit against Amber Heard to begin

By Mike Bedigan, PA Los Angeles Correspondent

Johnny Depp’s multimillion-dollar US defamation lawsuit against ex-wife Amber Heard is due to begin at a Virginia courthouse.

The former Hollywood power couple are both expected to give evidence in person at the trial, and high-profile figures including James Franco, Paul Bettany and Elon Musk are scheduled to give testimony.

Mr Depp is suing his former partner for libel over a 2018 op-ed she wrote in the Washington Post, in which she discussed her experiences of domestic abuse.

The actor’s lawyers say the article falsely implies Ms Heard, 35, was physically and sexually abused by Depp when they were married.

Mr Depp, 58, has said the accusations have made it difficult for him to get the sorts of roles he once did.

Johnny Depp court case
Ms Heard’s 2018 op-ed, which she wrote in the Washington Post, is the focus of Depp’s case (Yui Mok/PA)

The piece was titled: I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change.

The article does not mention Mr Depp by name.

Ms Heard’s lawyers are expected to argue she should be immune from the libel suit because of a Virginia law known as an anti-Slapp provision (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation).

The provision is designed to protect people from nuisance lawsuits when they speak about matters of public concern.

Ms Heard’s lawyer, Elaine Bredehoft, has argued the article addresses a very serious issue of public concern: preventing domestic violence.

The actress has also filed a counterclaim for defamation against Mr Depp because of statements Mr Depp’s lawyer made about her.

Johnny Depp court case
Depp’s lawyers say Ms Heard’s 2018 article falsely implies she was physically and sexually abused by him when they were married (Yui Mok/PA)

The case is being brought in Virginia, rather than in California where the actors reside, because the Washington Post’s online editions are published through servers located in Fairfax County.

Mr Depp’s lawyers say one of the reasons they brought the case in Virginia is because the state’s anti-Slapp law is not as broad as the one in California.

The lawsuit, taking place at the Fairfax County District Courthouse, seeks 50 million dollars in damages.

It comes after Depp lost a similar defamation case in the UK, which he brought against the publishers of The Sun newspaper, News Group Newspapers (NGN).

An article also written in 2018 by The Sun’s executive editor Dan Wootton referred to Mr Depp as a “wife-beater” in the headline.

Following a 16-day trial in July 2021, a judge found the content of the article to be “substantially true”.

Mr Depp is refused permission to appeal against the decision at the Court Of Appeal.

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