Johnny Depp lost his "wife beater" libel case against British tabloid The Sun. The verdict was announced at 5 a.m. EST on Monday, November 2.
The actor sued the paper after they published an article claiming that he assaulted ex-wife Amber Heard. "Gone Potty: How can J.K. Rowling be 'genuinely happy' casting wife beater Johnny Depp in the new Fantastic Beasts film?" the headline originally read.
"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," Judge Justice Nicol said.
"I have reached these conclusions having examined in detail the 14 incidents on which the defendants rely, as well as the over-arching considerations which the claimant submitted I should take into account. In those circumstances, parliament has said that a defendant has a complete defense," he added.
The judge did not accept Depp’s claim that his ex-wife was a gold digger. "I recognize that there were other elements to the divorce settlement as well," he said, "but her donation of … $7 million to charity is hardly the act one would expect of a gold digger."
He also cited an email the Pirates of the Caribbean actor sent in August 2016 about Heard. "I have no mercy, no fear and not an ounce of emotion or what I once thought was love for this gold digging, low level, dime a dozen, mushy, pointless dangling overused flappy fish market," he wrote. "I can only hope that karma kicks in and takes the gift of breath from her … Sorry man … But NOW I will stop at nothing!!!"
“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," the publication wrote in a statement.
Elaine Charlson Bredehoft, who will represent Heard in a similar defamation case in the U.S., said: "For those of us present for the London high court trial, this decision and judgment are not a surprise."
Depp is suing Heard for an article she wrote for The Washington Post titled, “I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change.”
"Very soon, we will be presenting even more voluminous evidence in the U.S. We are committed to obtaining justice for Amber Heard in the U.S. court and defending Ms Heard’s right to free speech," Bredehoft said.
The trial took place in July over a 16-day period at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, England.
Throughout the ordeal, both Heard and Depp testified against one another. Heard said that during an incident in Australia in 2015, he threw bottles in her direction, in addition to other instances of violence and abuse. Meanwhile, Depp's team said that Heard was the abuser.
Depp’s ex-partners Vanessa Paradis and Winona Ryder defended the Hollywood star at the time. "I have seen that these outrageous statements have been really distressing and also caused damage to his career because unfortunately, people have gone on believing these false facts," Paradis said, while Ryder said he was never abusive toward her.
Representatives for Depp have yet to make a statement.