High profile Hollywood actor Johhny Depp has lost his libel suit filed against UK newspaper 'The Sun' for calling him a 'wife-beater'.
The Queen's Bench Division of the London High Court dismissed the suit filed by Depp holding that the article published by 'The Sun' was 'substantially true'.
"The Claimant has not succeeded in his action for libel. 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", Justice Andrew Nicol said while concluding the 129-page judgment.
The subject matter of the suit was the article titled "'GONE POTTY How Can J K Rowling be "genuinely happy" casting wife beater Johnny Depp in the new Fantastic Beasts film?' published by 'The Sun' in its online and print editions in April 2018.
The article stated that 57-year old Depp engaged in domestic violence against his wife Amber Heard, also an actor, during their marriage which lasted from 2015-2017.
The 'Pirates of Caribbean' actor claimed in the suit that the article was baseless and that the serious allegations ruined his reputation affecting his career.
In defence, the News Group Newspapers Ltd(NGN - the company which runs 'The Sun') cited 14 instances of Depp abusing Heard. The Court held that "great majority of alleged assaults of Ms Heard by Mr Depp have been proved to the civil standard", except two instances.
The Court, while rejecting Depp's claims, observed that in an action for libel, truth was a defence, which could be proved on the basis of balance of probabilities.
The Court took into account the details of the divorce proceedings between Depp and Heard and the settlement which they arrived at after the conclusion of the same.
The Court also noted that Depp chose not to make Heard a party to the suit.
'Amber Heard not a gold-digger' : Court observed
A recurring theme in Mr Depp's evidence was that Ms Heard had constructed a hoax and that she had done this as an 'insurance policy' – presumably in the event that the marriage broke down. The Court refused to accept this characterization of Heard after taking into account evidence in the form of multiple e-mail exchanges, text messages etc.
Also, the Court noted that Heard had donated to charity a substantial portion of US $ 7 million paid to her by Depp as part of divorce settlement. This was not disputed by Depp during the trial. Also, the joint statement issued by Depp and Heard following the settlement had acknowledged that her intention was to donate to charity.
"I recognise that there were other elements o the divorce settlement as well, but her donation of the $ 7 million to charity is hardly the act one would expect of a gold-digger", the Court observed.