Johnny Depp’s offer to have Amber Heard blocked from the start of this month’s High Court confrontation with The Sun newspaper has been rejected.
The actor takes defamation actions against publisher News Group Newspapers (NGN) and executive editor Dan Wooton over allegations that he was violent against his ex-wife.
A three-week trial, centered on a 2018 article Depp mentions as a “ woman beater, ” which he firmly denies, will begin in London on Tuesday.
But in the last pre-hearing, Depp’s legal time on Friday spit out excluding Heard from court until she was called up as a witness by NGN, meaning she would be prevented from seeing her ex-husband testify.
Depp’s lawyer, Eleanor Laws QC, had argued that Heard’s evidence could later be less reliable if she was present during Depp’s testimony.
She also claimed that actress Heard was not a “party” to the lawsuit and therefore did not need to appear in court to testify.
But Mr. Justice Nicol has declined to grant 57-year-old Depp’s request, paving the way for 34-year-old Heard to attend the trial.
The actor (left, in February), 57, is suing tabloid publisher News Group Newspapers and executive editor Dan Wootton over a 2018 article Depp called a “ woman beater. ” The article related to allegations against Depp by actress Heard (right, December), 34, of being violent against her during their marriage – allegations that he strongly denies
In a court order published today, the judge said that excluding Heard from the hearing would “hinder the defendants in conducting their defense.”
He noted that it was NGN and Mr Wootton, not Ms Heard, who defended the claim, but said that “they rely heavily on the information Ms Heard can provide”.
He added: ‘She (Ms Heard) will not be able to give instructions to (the NGN lawyers), but she can provide information to which the defendants can respond.
“It is an advantage for the defendants to be able to do that almost immediately in the course of Depp’s cross-examination, and it would be unfair, in my opinion, to deprive the defendants of that advantage.”
It came after NGN’s lawyers filed last week to drop Depp’s claim that the star had not made public the “ Australian drug texts ” sent between the actor and his assistant, Nathan Holmes.
The pair met on the set of the 2011 comedy The Rum Diary and married in Los Angeles in February 2015 (premiere shown)
The reports, sent in late February and early March 2015 – shortly before an alleged incident in Australia between Depp and Heard, which she said was “a three-day trial of physical attacks” – showed that Depp was trying to get drugs during Australia visit, Adam said Wolanski QC.
Wolanski said the Hollywood star had a “ serious ” breach of a court order by not giving the NGN legal team the reports of references to “ happy pills ” and “ whitey stuff, ” which he said were “ severely damaging to his matter’.
The attorney even accused Depp and his attorneys of “a systematic attempt to distort things” by deliberately withholding documents from NGN – a claim Depp’s attorney David Sherborne called “outrageous.”
Mr. Justice Nicol ruled on Monday that Depp had violated an ‘unless order’ requiring him to disclose documents of separate libel proceedings against Ms. Heard in the US – including the text messages.
However, in a further ruling on Thursday, the judge said he would grant Depp’s request for “sanctions waiver”, meaning the process will continue as planned.
The judge said his decision was conditional on Depp’s commitment not to sanction Heard for alleged breach of a warrant issued during separate defamation proceedings in the U.S. by providing evidence to The Sun’s legal team.
Depp, 57, in one of his most famous roles on the Pirates of the Caribbean movie series as the eccentric Captain Jack Sparrow
The alleged incident in Australia is one of 14 separate allegations of domestic violence, between early 2013 and May 2016, on which NGN bases its plea for Depp’s allegation.
A three-week trial at the Royal Courts of Justice in London – which would begin in March, but was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic – kicks off Tuesday, with Depp’s former partners Vanessa Paradis and Winona Ryder testifying among the witnesses.
The court learned that Depp plans to travel to London from his home in France to testify, while Heard is believed to have already traveled to the UK from California.
The libel claim against NGN and Mr. Wootton stems from the publication of an article in The Sun in April 2018, under the headline: ‘Gone Potty – How can JK Rowling be’ really happy ‘casting wife beater Johnny Depp in the new Fantastic Beasts movie ? ‘
Depp has initiated separate libel proceedings against Heard in the United States, which the court says will come to trial next year.
The pair met on the set of the 2011 comedy The Rum Diary and married in Los Angeles in February 2015.
In May 2016, Heard received a restraining order against Depp after accusing him of abuse, which he denied.
The couple settled their divorce out of court in 2017, with Heard donating her seven million dollar (£ 5.5 million) settlement to a charity.