Johnny Depp Loses Appeal in 'Wife Beater' Libel Case

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Court Rejects Actor Johnny Depp’s Last-Ditch Appeal in ‘Wife Beater’ Case

Johnny Depp’s try at a UK libel lawsuit against British outlet The Sun has finally reached its final resting place: a resounding loss for Depp. The actor sued after The Sun published an article describing him as a “wife beater” in a headline, referring to domestic violence allegations made by Depp’s ex-wife, actress Amber Heard.

The justices tasked with considering Depp’s request to appeal, James Dingemans and Nicholas Underhill, said the proceedings below had been “full and fair” and that the trial judge’s conclusions “have not been shown even arguably to be vitiated by any error of approach or mistake of law.”

The British court held a three-week trial last year, after which the judge dismissed Depp’s libel claim on the basis that the headline had been “substantially true.” The ruling was based in part on Heard’s having presented evidence that Depp put her in “fear for her life.”

Depp attempted to appeal the ruling. The court held a hearing on the issue of appeal, then ruled against Depp, refusing to grant him permission to continue his case. At the hearing, Depp raised questions of Heard’s credibility, pointing to the fact that she’d pledged to donate her $7 million divorce settlement to charity, but had not actually done so. Depp’s barrister, Andrew Caldecott QC, advanced an argument that Heard made the promise for the purpose of boosting her own credibility with the court, thereby “tipp[ing] the scales against Mr Depp from the very beginning.”

That argument fell flat, as the presiding justice found denied that there was any ground for believing the trial judge had been improperly influenced. Depp has maintained that it was not Heard, but rather, he who was the victim of violence during the couple’s 15-month marriage.

Despite Depp’s profound loss in court, the internet has been mostly kind to the Pirates of the Caribbean actor. #JusticeForJohnnyDepp began trending after the news of Depp’s failed attempt at appeal broke, many users praising Depp for coming forward as a male victim of domestic violence.

Last year, Depp resigned from the third Fantastic Beasts sequel, at the request of Warner Brothers.

The Sun’s lawyers hailed the ruling as a “victory for the freedom of the press and for victims of domestic violence everywhere.” The Sun also issued a statement promising to “continue to stand up and campaign for victims of domestic abuse.”

Depp’s most recent Instagram post was on March 20 to promote his new movie City of Lies.

“Truth is a rare bird,” he wrote. “All the more reason to search for it.

An attorney for Johnny Depp did not immediately respond to request for comment.

[image via Andreas Rentz/Getty Images for ZFF]

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Elura is a columnist and trial analyst for Law & Crime. Elura is also a former civil prosecutor for NYC's Administration for Children's Services, the CEO of Lawyer Up, and the author of How To Talk To Your Lawyer and the Legalese-to-English series. Follow Elura on Twitter @elurananos