Amber Heard made a parting shot on the steps of the Royal Courts of Justice in London today as Johnny Depp’s libel action against The Sun newspaper drew to a close.
The biggest English libel trial of the 21st century ended this afternoon after three weeks of high drama, claims of brutal violence and sensational revelations about a tempestuous Hollywood marriage.
Depp is suing News Group Newspapers (NGN), publisher of The Sun newspaper, and its executive editor Dan Wootton, over an article which alleged he was violent to Heard, labelling him a “wife beater”
On the final day of the trial, the High Court heard how Depp has lost “nothing less than everything” as a result of the “appalling allegations”.
The comments, made in Court 13, came as Heard told reporters outside that said she stood by her evidence and would “place her faith in British justice”.
She said: “After obtaining a restraining order in 2016 and finalising my divorce, I just wanted to move on with my life. I did not file this lawsuit and, despite its significance, I would have preferred not to be here in court.
“It has been incredibly painful to relive the break up of my relationship, have my motives and my truth questioned, and the most traumatic and intimate details of my life with Johnny shared in court and broadcast around the world.
“I stand by my testimony and I now place my faith in British justice.”
Heard, 34, also said she was aware of “the precious resources” which Depp’s litigation had consumed and that she looked forward to seeing them redirected “to more important legal matters delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic”.
After thanking her legal teams, the court staff and the police for maintaining her security during the three-week trial, she said: “My heartfelt thanks for the tremendous outpouring of support and the many messages I have received from around the world. You have given me so much strength and I send it back to you.”
As the actress spoke, there were shouts of “justice for Johnny” from one woman and after she finished, boos were heard from a small number of onlookers as she returned inside the building.
Day 16 of the trial saw the Pirates Of The Caribbean star, 57, arrive to screams from fans inside the imposing building’s main hall.
In closing submissions his barrister, David Sherborne, said Depp was “no wife beater”.
It is important to the star to clear his name, his lawyers told the court, saying: “This is not about money, this is vindicating him.”
Mr Sherborne accused NGN and Mr Wootton of “acting as both judge and jury”, said the article was “not researched at all”, and that it was presented in a “deliberately and wholly one-sided manner”.
He also launched a stinging attack on Heard accusing her of being a “compulsive liar”.
In his final remarks, Mr Sherborne said: “What is important to Mr Depp is clearing his name of these appalling allegations, expanded on as it has been over the last four years, as a result of which he has lost nothing less than everything, he would say.
“When I say he has lost everything, to him obviously everything is his reputation. This is not about money, this is vindicating him.”
Mr Sherborne told the court it is “common ground” that Heard’s credibility is “key”, adding: “It is the defendants who bear the burden of proof.”
“We say from the big points even to the smaller ones, Heard has proven herself to be a wholly unreliable witness and, frankly, a compulsive liar – and I don’t say that lightly,” he said.
During his closing remarks, Mr Sherborne also referred to evidence of Depp’s drink and drug use, saying the actor “never denies taking controlled drugs or consuming alcohol”.
“He admitted it and, if occasionally he was mistaken or forgot exactly when he stopped taking something… it is quite hard to see why that would make any material difference given how candid he has been about his use of certain substances,” Mr Sherborne said.
“The defendants’ case has to be more than that he took controlled drugs or that he consumed alcohol.”
Mr Sherborne reminded the judge that the burden of proof rests on NGN to prove what it published and said there is a higher standard of proof for the allegations because many are criminal in nature.
The barrister added: “This court requires compelling and cogent evidence before it will find that an allegation that someone is guilty of a serious criminal offence is true.”
On Monday, lawyers for NGN made their closing submissions, with barrister Sasha Wass QC telling the court that the defence is “one of truth, namely that Mr Depp did indeed beat his wife”.
She said: “For the defence of truth to be substantiated, the defendants need to prove on a balance of probabilities that Mr Depp assaulted Ms Heard on at least one occasion.
“During the last two weeks, the defendants have established that many more than one incident of wife-beating took place over the course of the relationship between the claimant (Mr Depp) and Amber Heard.”
Depp is suing NGN and Mr Wootton over the publication of an article on April 27 2018 with the headline: “Gone Potty: How can JK Rowling be ‘genuinely happy’ casting wife beater Johnny Depp in the new Fantastic Beasts film?”
NGN is defending the article as true, and says Depp was “controlling and verbally and physically abusive towards Ms Heard, particularly when he was under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs”.
Mr Justice Nicol reserved his decision. He gave no indication of when he will give his ruling, but it is not expected to be before September.