November 3, 2020

Pride Comes Before a Fall – The Johnny Depp Case

Johnny Depp sued the owners of The Sun newspaper over an article under the headline “GONE POTTY How can J.K. Rowling be genuinely happy casting wife beater, Johnny Depp, in the new Fantastic Beasts film?”. Depp complained about the use of the description “wife beater” and said it was defamatory.

Not only did Depp, in effect, have to prove it wasn’t true, but that he had suffered, or would suffer, serious harm, a requirement of the Defamation Act 2013. The Sun stuck by its story and wheeled in the former Mrs. Depp (Amber Heard) to give evidence that it was true; Depp had beaten her on occasions.

In his reserved Judgment, Mr. Justice Nicol, held that the Defendant had proven that on a balance of probabilities Depp had assaulted Ms. Heard several times, therefore the article was substantially true. Depp’s attempts to discredit her and portray her as the aggressive party in the relationship badly backfired. Was he seduced by his own fame; the good looking and loveable rogue of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies?  Surely no-one would believe this of him!

In light of the findings of the trial Judge, it is highly likely that Depp’s career is over, at least for the foreseeable future.  Surely the sensible course would have been to issue a denial of the news story at the time, and get on with his acting. The part played out in the Court could very well be his last!

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