A column published in The Sun by editor Dan Wootton addressed Johnny Depp as a ‘wife beater‘. Regarding this, Hollywood star was denied the right to appeal the High Court’s ruling. This decision was taken after the court concluded that the article wasn’t defamatory, and the claims of Depp assaulting his ex-wife that are presented in the article are ‘substantially true’.
In his judgment, Lord Justice Underhill of the Court of Appeal stated: “We would accordingly dismiss both Mr. Depp’s application for permission to adduce further evidence and his application for permission to appeal”. He wrote that convincing the court to withdraw a certain trial judge’s findings based on completely factual questions is not an easy task. He continued: “We do not believe that there is a real prospect of it being prepared to do so in this case.”
Lord Justice Underhill also stated that Depp’s previous hearing with High Court Judge Nicol J was a fair one. He also stated that Judge Nicol J’s conclusions are backed by thorough reasoning.
Depp Has Been Requesting Right To Appeal Since Last November
Since last November, Depp has been requesting permission to appeal The Sun’s case ruling. This case was ruled in favor of the News Group Newspapers (NGN) by the High Court.
As a result of losing the case, Depp was required to pay £628,000 ($859,000) in legal costs. Initially, Mr. Justice Nicol declined the right to appeal. However, he stated that Depp could appeal to the Court of Appeal, and Depp proceeded to do so.
Jeffrey Smele is the partner of media law specialists Simons Muirhead Burton who acted for The Sun and Dan Wootton. He stated that the High Court’s decision fully clears The Sun’s journalism. Not only that, he said that the ruling also vindicates Depp’s ex-wife Amber Heard who stood up to the actor in the face of his continuous attempts of silencing her. “It’s a victory for the freedom of the press and for victims of domestic violence everywhere”, added Smele.
This case has now been labeled as the libel trial of the century. Throughout the trial, the court reviewed more than a dozen files of evidence. Also, it heard evidence from over 30 witnesses. As of now, the Court of Appeal has denied all forms of additional appeals with hopes of bringing this matter to a close. Smele further stated that Johnny Depp’s claim of new and important evidence is a press strategy that has been soundly rejected by the court.
Last Year, Judges Ruled That NGN Claims Were ‘Substantially True’
Last year, judges ruled that the claims made by NGN were ‘substantially true’. Following this, Depp brought his case to the Royal Courts of Justice in London. According to Nicol’s ruling, on 12 of the original 14 domestic violence incidents that formed NGN’s defense case against Depp’s libel suit, Amber Heard was assaulted by Depp. Balance of probability, which is a lower standard than needed in criminal cases, was the deciding factor of this case.
After the initial ruling, Depp argued that his trial was unfair. Depp’s barrister David Sherborne’s additional documents argued that the court should order a new trial and that Nicol’s ruling is ‘plainly wrong’.
Last week, Depp’s legal team bought new evidence to the court. They claimed that Heard’s claims which stated that she’s giving away all of the divorce money to charity were deceptive. Speaking on behalf of Depp, Andrew Caldecott QC stated that Heard had only donated part of the amount to charities. However, NGN argued that since documents proving the donations were available even before last year’s trial, Depp’s claims cannot be counted as significant new evidence.
Some of the evidence forwarded by Heard depicted that she wasn’t the aggressor during any of the incidents. During the original trial, this view was welcomed by the judge.
Depp Wants A New Trial With The New Evidence Submitted
Several recordings were submitted by Depp’s legal team, and one was from a consensual therapy meeting between the couple. In this recording, Amber Heard says: “I can’t promise you that I won’t get physical again… I’ll do everything possible to change”. Regarding this, Caldecott stated that such evidence where the alleged victim claims to be assaulting the alleged perpetrator requires very careful examination by the judge. They argued that the judge was wrong and careless to downgrade the importance of such contemporary documents. They also argued that the judge did not properly conduct the judicial fact-finding exercise. Lastly, Caldecott concluded by stating that Johnny Depp only wants a retrial with the new evidence submitted.
Prior to the hearing, NGN submitted documents asking the court to deny Depp’s right to appeal. They argued that it was ‘solely against the judge’s fact-findings’, and that the respondents have proved that their articles were substantially true. They also stated that the case presented by the actor’s representatives was ‘unarguable’, and that some claims were visibly incorrect.
On behalf of NGN, Sasha Wass QC stated that the initial judgement was a perfectly rational decision that was analyzed properly. She also said that the case wasn’t ‘simply one woman giving all evidence with no support whatsoever. Adam Wolanski QC further added: “This material would have made no difference at all to the credit of Ms. Heard.”