Justice for Johnny Depp: The Libel Trial Explained

  • AUTHOR: dua
  • POSTED ON: November 12, 2020

The whole world came
out in support of Amber Heard when she opened up about her experience of
domestic violence at the hands of Johnny Depp, the Hollywood superstar. It was at the peak of the Me Too
Movement – the emotions were high and nobody batted an eye when a woman spoke
against her abuser.

This is when we came to the realization that even a
movement so pure as this one could find loopholes and cracks.

When the majority of
women used this time to fight for what’s right – consent, bodily autonomy, etc
– some opportunists tried to settle personal scores and add a tint to this
moralistic wave and one of them happens to be Amber Heard.

If you’ve been
following the case like us, you’d know that Depp’s action was ill-advised. What
would any innocent person do when traumatic, unflattering and acutely intimate
details regarding your marriage make front-page headlines of gossip magazines? He
was falsely accused of living a drug and alcohol-fueled lifestyle, and on top
of that, allegations of domestic violence made it to the list. Johnny Depp was
in a tricky situation where there was no easy way out.

What made matters worse
is the parade of witnesses that treaded into the London’s High Court to stand
with their respective friends. The details were gruesome because not only was
the property destroyed but the contingents included a severed finger and piles
of faeces in bed. The ugly revelations of this calamitous affair led to
defamation cases against two UK newspaper publishers.

Not to suggest that the
legal trial was not traumatic, but the constant reputational attacks which
Johnny Depp faced were more likely to have hit him the hardest. More
importantly, the timing was calculative and heinously villainous.

The judge on the case
ruled that the actor was correct in assessing that labels like “wife-beater”
would cause not just reputational but professional damages in the future – the
forced resignation demanded from Warner Bros for the Fantastic Beasts franchise
is a clear example.

Source: Daily Mail 

The accusation made
against Depp in one of the articles by The Sun led to vindictive slander and
online libel which compelled many producers to drop him from his on-going
projects – Pirates of the Caribbean and Fantastic Beasts film. 

NGN took a decision
that was bold but risky – it relied on the story given by the defense whereas
the publisher was asked to prove the contents of the allegation. However, the
entire argument was tricky so NGN made it unnecessary to prove that each statement’s aspect was unequivocally true as long as the statement
as a whole verifies to be accurate.

Hence, the standard of
proof required for defense is the one that is generally utilized in civil
cases, suggesting that the contents must be verified on the balance of
probabilities. This is comparatively harder to achieve than the regular
criminal offenses.   

You may think that NGN
had a relatively easy task to attain, but let’s not forget that once the
defense has made the argument, the burden rests on the shoulders of the
publisher to maintain innocence. Therefore, it never even came to the defense,
which is Johnny Depp, to make a move.

But again, things might get dirtier in
the future as both parties take regular turns to provide evidence in individual

In addition to this,
there are varied accounts of what happened in private so this case can’t easily
be ruled out. Both sides of lawyers will try to persuade the court to believe
in their story. Johnny Depp has proven in the court that it wasn’t him who was
violent towards Amber Heard. On the contrary, it was she who was violent
towards him.

Usually, publications
and media organizations are reluctant to fight libel actions, and instead
choose to make settlements outside the boundaries of the court so as to avoid
legal cost and other damages. NGN, however, didn’t take this route and sought
to take this fight to the court, and supposedly won.

On the 2nd
of November 2020, London’s High Court ruled the judgment against Johnny Depp.
Therefore, what this means is that Depp lost to a newspaper that labeled him a
“wife-beater” – even though he is not. The presiding judge, Mr. Justice Nicol,
dismissed his claims and ruled that the words used by the newspaper were
legally acceptable.

Now where is the
justice when Dan Wootton is calling Johnny Depp a wife beater on a public platform?
He is the one being thrown out of high-budgeted films meanwhile Amber Heard –
the actual abuser – is roaming around without being held accountable for her
actions. This has riled up many fans across the globe who’ve started
petitioning against Warner Bros and other production houses who’re furthering
damaging Depp’s case by acting as if the allegations are all true.

This is not the Me
Too Movement we all worked for! Do you agree!

Updated November 12, 2020
Back To Top