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Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Johnny Depp wins multimillion-dollar US defamation lawsuit against Amber Heard

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ohnny 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.

Mr Depp sued the Aquaman star for 50 million dollars over the piece, titled: “I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change.”

The article does not mention Mr Depp by name, yet his lawyers said it falsely implied he physically and sexually abused Ms Heard while they were together.

Following six weeks of evidence and roughly 13 hours of deliberation, jurors returned a verdict in favour of Mr Depp on Wednesday.

The actor was awarded compensatory damages of 10 million dollars (£8 million) and a further five million dollars (£4 million) in punitive damages.

Following the verdict, Mr Depp said in a statement that he was “humbled” that the jury had “given me my life back”.

He 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.”

He continued: “I am, and have been, overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and the colossal support and kindness from around the world.

“I hope that my quest to have the truth be told will have helped others, men or women, who have found themselves in my situation, and that those supporting them never give up.

“I also hope that the position will now return to innocent until proven guilty, both within the courts and in the media.”

Mr Depp was not present for the verdict, and was reportedly in the north east of England, after performing onstage for three nights in a row with musician Jeff Beck.

Ms Heard, who was present, was sitting between members of her legal team at the front of the court room, looked downcast as the ruling was read out by the judge.

She had her head bowed and appeared to be listening intently to the verdict.

But Ms Heard was awarded 2 million dollars (£1.6 million) in damages after her counterclaim against Mr Depp over comments made by his lawyer Adam Waldman, who allegedly referred to her abuse claims as a “hoax,” was also found to be defamatory.

Following the verdict, the actress said she was “heartbroken”, but “even even more disappointed with what this verdict means for other women”.

“The disappointment I feel today is beyond words,” she said in a statement.

“I’m heartbroken that the mountain of evidence still was not enough to stand up to the disproportionate power, influence, and sway of my ex-husband.

“I’m even more disappointed with what this verdict means for other women.”

Ms Heard said the verdict “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 Mr 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.

Mr Depp had consistently denied the “outrageous, outlandish” claims of abuse and said he had “spoken up for what I have been carrying on my back reluctantly for six years” during his own evidence.

The court previously heard that descriptions of Mr Depp’s drug use and violence were exaggerated by Ms Heard and her legal team.

The case was brought in Virginia rather than in California, where the actors live, because The Washington Post’s online editions are published through servers located in Fairfax County.

Witnesses have included family members, friends, colleagues, employees and other individuals including British supermodel Kate Moss, as well as both Mr Depp and Ms Heard.

During the course of the trial at Fairfax County District Court, legions of fans gathered outside in an attempt to enter the courtroom and observe proceedings.

Many lined up outside the courthouse in anticipation of the verdict and gave huge cheers as the verdicts were read out.

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