On Monday, a High Court verdict in London shocked many by declaring that a British tabloid was correct in dubbing Johnny Depp a “wife beater.” The verdict went against expectations after a highly publicized case in which both Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard accused each other of abuse, excessive alcohol and drug consumption and adultery. There was even an infamous accusation on Depp’s part that Heard defecated in their marital bed; she blamed their dog. The judge, for what it’s worth, wrote that he believes the dog did it.
After carefully looking at 14 allegations of abuse, the judge ruled that The Sun’s 2018 story that labeled Depp a “wife beater” was “substantially true.”
In his ruling, the judge, Justice Nicol said: “The claimant Depp has not succeeded in his action for libel… The defendants the Sun and News Group Newspapers have shown that what they published in the meaning which I have held the words to bear was substantially true. I have reached these conclusions having examined in detail the 14 incidents on which the defendants rely as well as the overarching considerations which the claimant submitted I should take into account. In those circumstances, parliament has said that a defendant has a complete defense.”
Depp was suing News Group Newspapers (NGN), the publishers of the British newspaper for libel after the piece claimed the 57-year-old beat his then-wife Heard, who is 34.
On Twitter, many users celebrated, and many noted that this may discourage male vicitms of abuse from speaking out: “This is why male victims don't even bother speaking up. Johnny Depp has hours of tapes of Amber Heard abusing him, more than 40 witnesses, medical and police records and security camera footage, yet the judge sided with her because she is a woman.”
Reports indicate that Depp will be made to cover his own and The Sun’s legal costs. He plans to appeal.