American actor Johnny Depp lost a slander lawsuit he filed in London, charging the tabloid The Sun for describing him as a "wife-beater" in one of their pieces, an allusion to his relationship with his ex-spouse Amber Heard.
The court process was ugly and dragged both actors' personal lives into the focus. And it was complicated because they've both accused each other of abuse.
British slander law is different than its counterpart in the USA. In the US, the burden of proof for slander lies on the person who was slandered. They have to prove that the accusations that are made against them are false.
In the USA, the person accused of slandering must prove that the accusations they've made are true. A judge in the UK held that 12 of 14 of Heard's abuse allegations met the threshold for legitimacy in civil court.
It seems that Johnny Depp has a lot of people by his side on the Internet. Twitter, Reddit, and other platforms are full of memes supporting the famous actor. Of course, some people disagree.
Johnny Depp and Amber Heard met when he was a 45 and she was 22. At that time, he was living with his long-time partner Vanessa Paradis and their two kids.
A couple of years later, Depp and Heard got married and divorced soon after that. Heard filed for divorce in 2016 and also got a temporary restraining order. Her accusations that Depp was physically and verbally violent while under the influence of drugs and alcohol were published worldwide.
She claimed that Depp threw a phone at her and bruised her face. However, a police spokesman denied that any such crime took place.
Depp denied the charges against him, and his representatives stated that Heard was "attempting to secure a premature financial resolution by alleging abuse." Heard testified at a deposition, but she revoked her request for a domestic violence restraining order, and the two parties have reached a settlement.
According to People, Heard got $7 million from the divorce and donated it to charitable foundations. She also revoked her spousal support claim of $50,000 a month.
"Our relationship was intensely passionate and, at times volatile, but always bound by love. Neither party has made false accusations for financial gain," Depp and Heard said in a then-released mutual testimony. "There was never any intent of physical or emotional harm." Their divorce was finalized a year after Heard filed.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, a non-disparagement clause was included in the agreement that prevented either party from saying something bad about the high-profile relationship and the breakup that followed.
In 2018, Heard authored an op-ed for The Washington Post, where she claimed she was abused, but Depp's name wasn't mentioned anywhere.
In 2019, Depp filed a suit against Heard for $50 million for slander. The claim said that Heard "is not a victim of domestic abuse, she is a perpetrator." It also claimed that Heard's allegations were part of an "elaborate hoax to generate positive publicity" for the actress.
"The op-ed depended on the central premise that Ms. Heard was a domestic abuse victim and that Mr. Depp perpetrated domestic violence against her," Depp's lawyers stated.
In 2020, the Daily Mail released phone call recordings where Heard confessed to "hitting" Depp.
Heard was saying: "I'm sorry that I didn't ... hit you across the face in a proper slap, but I was hitting you, it was not punching you. Babe, you're not punched.
"I don't know what the motion of my actual hand was, but you're fine, I did not hurt you, I did not punch you, I was hitting you."
"I left last night. Honestly, I swear to you because I just couldn't take the idea of more physicality, more physical abuse on each other," Depp replied in the recording. "Because had we continued it, it would have gotten f---ing bad. And baby, I told you this once. I'm scared to death we are a f---ing crime scene right now."
Heard replied: "I can't promise you I won't get physical again. God, I f---ing sometimes get so mad I lose it."