After months of waiting, the verdict of the High Court is in and it’s a total disaster for Johnny Depp. Mr. Justice Nicol has ruled that News Group Newspapers were within their rights to dub him a “wife beater,” with Amber Heard’s testimony having been found credible in the High Court of England and Wales. The judge’s decision will have enormous ramifications for Depp’s future and he’ll now take a massive financial hit in paying the legal costs of the hearing on top of major damage to his career prospects.
The key passage comes at page 588 of the judgment, in which Mr. Justice Nicol says:
“The Claimant has not succeeded in his action for libel. Although he has proved the necessary elements of his cause of action in libel, the Defendants have shown that what they published in the meaning which I have held the words to bear was substantially true.
I have reached these conclusions having examined in detail the 14 incidents on which the defendants rely as well as the overarching considerations which the claimant submitted I should take into account. In those circumstances, parliament has said that a defendant has a complete defence.””
The judge went on to note that he didn’t accept the characterization of Heard as a “gold-digger,” explaining that the violent assaults that she alleged were committed by Depp “have been proved to the civil standard.”
News Group Newspapers was quick to celebrate the result, releasing a statement saying the following:
“The Sun has stood up and campaigned for the victims of domestic abuse for over 20 years. Domestic abuse victims must never be silenced and we thank the judge for his careful consideration and thank Amber Heard for her courage in giving evidence to the court.”
This news has come as a shock to the actor’s many fans, with #JusticeForJohnnyDepp already trending amidst an outpouring of anger. Many had expected him to triumph and there are now cries that the judge was biased and that the British High Court is corrupt.
So, what’s next? Well, nothing good for Depp. He’ll be served a costs order for millions of pounds, though payment will likely be put on hold pending the outcome of an appeal. I would expect a case of this magnitude to go to the Court of Appeal fairly quickly, where three senior judges will review Mr. Justice Nicol’s decision and pick it apart for legal errors.
Beyond that, the judgment will inevitably impact the ongoing domestic lawsuits. Elaine Charlson Bredehoft, who’s representing Heard in her defamation case on this side of the pond, said:
“For those of us present for the London high court trial, this decision and judgment are not a surprise. Very soon, we will be presenting even more voluminous evidence in the US. We are committed to obtaining justice for Amber Heard in the US court and defending Ms Heard’s right to free speech.”
The decision will also potentially impact Depp’s upcoming movies. Will Warner Bros. want to have someone dubbed a wife beater starring in Fantastic Beasts 3? Does Disney want to make another Pirates of the Caribbean with an actor whose name is now seriously tarnished? I suspect we’ll see over the next few days, but whatever’s coming down the line for Johnny Depp isn’t going to be much fun.
Source: The Guardian