Entertainment

Stakes high as Johnny Depp's libel case against U.K. tabloid closes

Johnny Depp's libel case against a British tabloid that accused him of abusing ex-wife Amber Heard was wrapping up Tuesday after three weeks of court hearings that dissected a toxic celebrity love affair.

Depp denies former partner Amber Heard's claim of 14 separate incidents in which he allegedly hit her

Actor Amber Heard, left, and ex-husband Johnny Depp arrive separately on the final day of Depp's libel trial against News Group Newspapers at the High Court in London, on July 28, 2020. (Niklas Halle'n/AFP/Getty Images)

Johnny Depp's libel case against a British tabloid that accused him of abusing ex-wife Amber Heard is wrapping up today, with the star's lawyer insisting Depp had never hit a woman and branding Heard "a compulsive liar."

The Pirates of the Caribbean star is suing News Group Newspapers, publisher of The Sun, and the newspaper's executive editor, Dan Wootton, at the High Court in London over an April 2018 article that called him a "wife-beater."

In closing arguments at the three-week trial, Depp's lawyer, David Sherborne, said the actor strongly denied "this reputation-destroying, career-ending allegation."

Sherborne told the court that Depp has never hit a woman in his entire life — period, full stop.

WATCH | Johnny Depp's reputation likely the biggest loser at libel trial:

A U.K. judge will determine whether the Sun tabloid libelled actor Johnny Depp by calling him a wife beater, but Depp’s reputation may not recover regardless of the trial’s outcome. 2:12

 Depp denies Heard's claim of 14 separate incidents in which he allegedly hit, slapped and shoved her, pulled her hair and threw bottles at her "like grenades."

The judge was shown photos of Heard with black eyes, red marks on her face and an injured scalp — alleged evidence of Depp's violence.

Verdict expected in several weeks 

Judge Andrew Nicol will retire later to consider his verdict.

He is expected to hand down his ruling in several weeks.

Neither Depp nor Heard is on trial, though it has been easy to forget that during a case that dissected their toxic celebrity love affair.

To defeat Depp's libel claim, the newspaper must persuade the judge that, on the balance of probabilities, its story was accurate.

The paper's lawyer said in her closing argument that there was no doubt Depp "regularly and systematically abused his wife" and so the "wife-beater" label was justified.

But Sherborne said The Sun's article — which urged author J.K. Rowling to have Depp fired from the movie adaptation of her book Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them — gave the false impression Depp had been "tried, convicted and sentenced" for domestic violence, and compared him to former film mogul Harvey Weinstein, who has been jailed for sex offences.

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