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Libel Trial

Johnny Depp applies to overturn ruling that he assaulted ex-wife Amber Heard

The actor lost a case against The Sun’s publisher last month.

JOHNNY DEPP HAS applied to the Court of Appeal in a bid to overturn a damning High Court ruling that he assaulted his ex-wife Amber Heard and put her in fear for her life.

The actor sued The Sun’s publisher for libel after a 2018 column by its executive editor Dan Wootton labelled him a “wife beater”.

The 57-year-old took legal action against News Group Newspapers (NGN) over the column, which referred to “overwhelming evidence” he attacked Heard, 34, during their relationship.

In November, a judge dismissed the actor’s claim, finding NGN had proved what was in the article was “substantially true”.

The same judge refused Depp permission to appeal later the same month, ruling: “I do not consider that the proposed grounds of appeal have a reasonable prospect of success.”

The judge also ordered the actor to make an initial payment to NGN of almost £630,000 (€695,000) for the publisher’s legal fees.

Depp was given until 7 December to apply directly to the Court of Appeal to overturn his judgment.

Depp has now filed an application with the Court of Appeal, according to a publicly-available list of pending appeals.

It is not known what Depp’s grounds of appeal are, or when a decision on his application for permission to appeal is likely to be made.

In his judgment, published in November, the judge concluded that 12 of the 14 alleged incidents of domestic violence relied on by NGN did occur.

The judge found that Depp assaulted Heard on a dozen occasions and put her in “fear for her life” on three occasions, including one the actress described as a “three-day hostage situation” in Australia in March 2015.

The judge found Heard was also in fear for her life during incidents on the Eastern and Oriental Express in South East Asia in August 2015 and again in LA in December of the same year.

The judge said “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’”, and that Heard was a “gold-digger”.

But he added: “I do not accept this characterisation of Ms Heard.”

Depp announced just days after the ruling that he was asked by Warner Brothers to resign from his role in the Harry Potter spin-off franchise Fantastic Beasts – a role which prompted Wootton to ask how JK Rowling could be “genuinely happy” that he was cast in the film.

In that statement, he said: “The surreal judgment of the court in the UK will not change my fight to tell the truth and I confirm that I plan to appeal.”

His solicitor said the High Court ruling was “as perverse as it is bewildering”, adding: “The judgment is so flawed that it would be ridiculous for Mr Depp not to appeal this decision.”

But Heard’s US lawyer, Elaine Charlson Bredehoft, said: “For those of us present for the London High Court trial, this decision and judgment are not a surprise.

“Very soon, we will be presenting even more voluminous evidence in the US.”

Depp is currently embroiled in a separate libel battle in the US, having sued Heard personally over a 2018 Washington Post opinion piece in which she claimed to be a victim of domestic abuse.