Hollywood comes to UK High Court as Johnny Depp takes on The Sun

LONDON (AP) – Johnny Depp has a starring role in a real-life courtroom drama in London, where he is suing a tabloid newspaper for libel over an article that branded him a “wife beater.”

Yesterday, a judge at the High Court began hearing Depp’s claim against The Sun’s publisher, News Group Newspapers, and its executive editor, Dan Wootton, over the 2018 story alleging he was violent and abusive to then-wife Amber Heard. Depp strongly denies the claim.

Depp, 57, and model-actress Heard, 34, met on the set of the 2011 comedy The Rum Diary and married in Los Angeles in February 2015. They divorced in 2017, and now bitterly accuse one another of abuse. Both Depp and Heard are expected to give evidence at the three-week trial, one of the first to be held in person since Britain began to lift its coronavirus lockdown.

Witnesses are likely to include Depp’s former partners, Vanessa Paradis and Winona Ryder, both of whom have submitted statements supporting the Pirates of the Caribbean star.

Depp’s claim centres on an April 2018 story in the British tabloid headlined, ‘Potty – How can JK Rowling be ‘genuinely happy’ casting wife beater Johnny Depp in the new Fantastic Beasts film?”

Depp and The Sun have hired some of Britain’s highest-profile lawyers, and pre-trial hearings have already exposed radically differing accounts of Heard and Depp’s tempestuous marriage.

The Sun’s lawyers tried to have the suit thrown out on the grounds that Depp failed to disclose text messages he exchanged with an assistant showing that he tried to buy MDMA and other narcotics while he was in Australia with Heard in 2015.

File photo of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard. PHOTO: AFP