Johnny Depp wins defamation case against former wife Amber Heard
The verdict was delivered after a jury spent two days weighing bitter evidence of a disastrous marriage, ITV News Correspondent Geraint Vincent reports
Johnny Depp has won his multimillion-dollar US lawsuit against former wife Amber Heard after a jury ruled her 2018 article in the Washington Post was defamatory.
Jury members found Depp should be awarded $15 million in damages - $10 million (£8 million) in punitive damages and $5 million (£4 million) in compensatory damages. However, the judge said state law caps punitive damages at $350,000, meaning Depp was awarded $10.35 million.
The jury also found Heard was defamed by a lawyer for Depp when he called her abuse allegations a hoax - she was awarded $2 million in damages.
The rulings will be viewed as a resounding victory for Depp, who has argued that Heard fabricated claims she was abused by Depp before and during their brief marriage.
Following the rulings, Depp said he was “humbled” that the jury had “given me my life back”.
Heard, on the other hand, said she was "heartbroken" and "disappointed with what this verdict means for other women”.
Justice has been done but what will the impact of the circus around this case be on victims of domestic violence? Correspondent Geraint Vincent explains
The Pirates Of The Caribbean actor sued his former partner over a Washington Post article she wrote, titled: “I spoke up against sexual violence – and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change.”
The article does not mention Depp by name, yet his lawyers say it falsely implies he physically and sexually abused the Aquaman actress while they were together.
Depp fans celebrate outside the courtroom following the actor's win
During the six-week long trial, Heard testified about more than a dozen episodes of physical and sexual assault that she said Depp inflicted on her. Depp has denied ever hurting Heard and pointed to several instances of her abusing him.
Heard, who on Wednesday was sitting between members of her legal team at the front of the courtroom, looked downcast as the rulings were read out by the judge.
The judge delivers the verdicts on Depp's claims
Depp was not in court, as he has been performing with guitarist Jeff Beck in the UK.
He was pictured outside a Newcastle pub ahead of a rumoured performance at The Sage in Gateshead as he won the defamation case.
Five key moments from the trial:
Depp claimed Heard sliced the top part of his finger off after she threw two vodka bottles at him. Heard claimed Depp sliced his finger when he punched a wall.
Jurors were presented videos and recordings taken by Heard during their relationship. In one he could be heard saying: “The next move, if I don’t walk away... it’s going to be a bloodbath, like it was on the island,” Depp says on the recording.
Alarming text messages sent by Heard and Depp were read out aloud in court. In 2013, Depp texted actor Paul Bettany "Let's burn Amber!!!" something that was leapt on by Heard's team. Depp has previously apologised to the jury for the language used in the texts.
Depp claimed that Heard left faeces in their bed after they had a fight while staying in Australia. During the trial she strongly denied an accusation from Depp. Heard said it was the couple’s dog that messed the bed.
British supermodel Kate Moss was one of the final witnesses to be called to give evidence and testified remotely. Moss denied that Depp had ever pushed her down the stairs, contrary to rumours speculated by Heard in her own testimony.
In 2020, a UK judge dismissed Depp’s libel claim against the publisher of The Sun, finding that an April 2018 column calling Mr Depp a “wife beater” was “substantially true”. The judge ruled Depp assaulted Heard on a dozen occasions and put her in “fear for her life” three times.
In a statement released after Wednesday's ruling, Depp said: “From the very beginning, the goal of bringing this case was to reveal the truth, regardless of the outcome. “Speaking the truth was something that I owed to my children and to all those who have remained steadfast in their support of me. “I feel at peace knowing I have finally accomplished that.”
Depp's lawyer's thanked the jury in speeches outside the courtroom, adding that it is"now time to turn the page and look to the future".
Depp's lawyers 'grateful' to the jury as they speak outside the courtroom following their victory
But Heard condemned the verdict, saying on Twitter “sets back the clock to a time when a woman who spoke up and spoke out could be publicly shamed and humiliated”.
She added that Depp’s attorneys had succeeded in getting jury members to “overlook” freedom of speech. “I’m sad I lost this case. But I am sadder still that I seem to have lost a right I thought I had as an American – to speak freely and openly,” she said.
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