After what was described by media coverage as the biggest libel trial to take place in Britain, Johnny Depp lost his battle against The Sun who labelled the star a ‘wife-beater’ in a ruling welcomed by women’s rights groups.
Depp is alleged to have committed 14 assaults against ex-wife Amber Heard spanning three years which the judge said were ‘proved to the civil standard’. Mr Justice Nicol also found that Pirates of the Caribbean star put Heard in ‘fear of her life’ during their time in Australia in 2015 as well as on some of their other vacations.
Depp’s alleged actions are said to have stemmed from ‘deep misogyny’ which was exacerbated by his drug and alcohol addiction. The court found texts sent from Depp that describe women as ‘fat ugly whores’ and ‘sluts’. He claimed that his ex-wife was a ‘gold digger’, a ‘shrew’ and an ‘adulterer’.
In 2016, Heard filed for divorce from Depp as well as obtaining a temporary restraining order. Depp agreed to pay a sum of $7m to Heard in settlement, which Heard donated to the American Civil Liberties Union and Children’s hospital of Los Angeles. Heard, since her divorce has been a staunch advocate of women’s rights and against domestic abuse.
In a statement by women’s rights charity Women’s Aid, the allegations against Depp are described as ‘extremely serious’. ‘Everyone who has experienced domestic abuse deserves to be listened to and believed. This also applies to survivors who do not fit the image of the “perfect” victim – and regardless of the high profile of the alleged abuser,’ commented acting chief exec Nicki Norman. ‘There is no excuse for domestic abuse.’
The domestic abuse charity, Refuge, said that a common technique used by abusers was to tell their victims that no one will believe them, using their power and control in an attempt to silence them. ‘Everyone who has experienced domestic abuse deserves to be listened to and believed,’ said the group’s director of communications Lisa King. ‘This also applies to survivors who do not fit the image of the “perfect” victim – and regardless of the high profile of the alleged abuser. There is no excuse for domestic abuse.’