UK court to consider Depp appeal bid of ‘wife-beater’ libel ruling

LONDON (AFP) – Hollywood star Johnny Depp’s bid to overturn a high-profile British libel ruling over reports he assaulted his ex-wife Amber Heard will head back to court yesterday, as the actor seeks formal permission to appeal.

The Pirates of the Caribbean star lost his battle for damages in November over a 2018 newspaper article that branded him a “wife-beater”.

The Court of Appeal in London will yesterday hear his application to review the libel case against the publishers of The Sun tabloid newspaper.

Depp was ordered to pay News Group Newspapers (NGN) GBP628,000 in legal costs from the trial, which laid bare the actor’s chaotic lifestyle and battles with alcohol and drug addiction.

Judge Andrew Nicol, who heard the case, previously refused him grounds to appeal but said he could apply directly to the Court of Appeal to overturn his judgement, which Depp then did.

In documents since filed with the Court of Appeal, Depp’s lawyer David Sherborne claimed Nicol’s ruling was “plainly wrong”.

He argued the judge had failed to examine the competing accounts of each incident of alleged violence by Depp towards Heard, or “explain whether he found them proved and, if so, on what basis”.

However, Adam Wolanski, the lawyer representing NGN, countered that Nicol had conducted “a painstaking analysis of the evidence”.

“There is no basis to conclude that the judge failed to examine the evidence or provide reasons for his findings,” he added in his submission.