In 2018, the British outlet published a shocking story detailing a laundry list of disturbing allegations made by Heard about her husband. Among the claims were instances of intense mental and physical abuse including head-butting and kicking, all of which Depp has since denied. But the Fantastic Beasts actor's rebuttal of the claims and subsequent libel lawsuit against The Sun wasn't enough for the High Court's Judge Andrew Nicol, who ultimately ruled that the outlet wasn't libelous for publishing the story or for calling Depp an abuser because the story was "substantially true" — there was more than enough evidence at the time to support a number of the claims that Heard made against her ex-husband.
“I accept her evidence of the nature of the assaults he committed against her,” Judge Nicol wrote in his 129-page judgment. “I accept that Mr. Depp put her in fear of her life.”
Depp was quick to attempt to appeal the High Court decision, his counsel telling appeals judges James Dingemans and Nicholas Underhill that Heard wasn't a reliable witness and that his libel case had not been judged fairly. However, the justices weren't having that; despite the argument of Depp's counsel, the pair dismissed the appeal and asserted that the judgment had been made in full knowledge of both sides' respective arguments.
"It is clear from a reading of the judgment as a whole that the judge based his conclusions on each of the incidents on his extremely detailed review of the evidence specific to each incident,” concluded the justices in court.
"The evidence presented at last week's hearing (the appeal of Mr. Depp vs. News Group Newspapers LTD) further demonstrates that there are clear and objective reasons to seriously question the decision reached in the UK court," said Depp's British counsel, Joelle Rich of Schillings Partners, in an official statement responding to the appeals ruling. "Mr. Depp looks forward to presenting the complete, irrefutable evidence of the truth in the US libel case against Ms. Heard where she will have to provide full disclosure."
Even after this loss, the actor is still facing more court appearances connected to his ongoing legal battle against Heard. Depp is still pursuing his $50 million defamation suit against Heard after she published an op-ed about domestic abuse in The Washington Post. That Virginia-based case may require him to reconnect with a number of his famous exes to prove his ex-wife's malicious intent in writing the op-ed, which will definitely be complicated given the very dark nature of this case. Depp and his counsel won't be able to make their arguments until next year because the defamation trial has been pushed to April 2022.
If you are experiencing domestic violence, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or TTY 1-800-787-3224 for confidential support.