Johnny Depp wins US defamation lawsuit against former wife Amber Heard
Following six weeks of evidence and roughly 13 hours of deliberation, jurors reached a decision
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.
Mr Depp was awarded compensatory damages of 10 million dollars (£8 million) and a further 5 million dollars (£4 million) in punitive damages.
Mr Depp said: “Six years ago, my life, the life of my children, the lives of those closest to me, and also, the lives of the people who for many, many years have supported and believed in me were forever changed.
“All in the blink of an eye.
“False, very serious and criminal allegations were levied at me via the media, which triggered an endless barrage of hateful content, although no charges were ever brought against me. It had already travelled around the world twice within a nanosecond and it had a seismic impact on my life and my career.
“And six years later, the jury gave me my life back. I am truly humbled.”
Mr Depp went on to say his decision to pursue the case “was only made after considerable thought” and his goal 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,” the actor said.
He said he had been “overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and the colossal support and kindness from around the world”, adding: “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.”
He added: “The best is yet to come and a new chapter has finally begun” before concluding: “Veritas numquam perit. Truth never perishes. “
Ms Heard, who 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 was awarded two 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.
The actress had her head bowed and appeared to be listening intently to the verdict.
Following the verdict Ms Heard said she felt “heartbroken” by the ruling, adding she was “sadder still” that she had “lost a right” to “speak freely and openly”.
“The disappointment I feel today is beyond words. 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,” she said in a statement.
“I’m even more disappointed with what this verdict means for other women.
“It is a setback. It sets back the clock to a time when a woman who spoke up and spoke out could be publicly shamed and humiliated.
“It sets back the idea that violence against women is to be taken seriously.
“I believe Johnny’s attorneys succeeded in getting the jury to overlook the key issue of freedom of speech and ignore evidence that was so conclusive that we won in the UK.
“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.”
Ms Heard was present for the verdict but Mr Depp was not, with the actor still in the UK.
In the past few days, the actor has made appearances on stage alongside musician Jeff Beck in Sheffield and London’s Royal Albert Hall.
Mr Depp sued the Aquaman star for 50 million US 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 implies he physically and sexually abused Ms Heard while they were together.
Following six weeks of evidence and roughly 13 hours of deliberation, jurors reached a decision.
The actor has 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 during the trial.
During closing remarks, both sides urged jurors to think about other victims of domestic abuse.
Ms Heard’s legal team highlighted the message that a verdict in Mr Depp’s favour would send to others, while the actor’s representatives said her claims were “an act of profound cruelty to true survivors”.
In the past few days, Mr Depp has made appearances on stage alongside musician Jeff Beck in the UK, and it is uncertain whether he will be present for the verdict.