A jury on Wednesday ruled in favor of Johnny Depp in his libel lawsuit against ex-wife Amber Heard. It found that the ‘Aquaman’ actor fabricated claims that she was abused by Depp before and during their brief marriage.
Depp had sued Heard in a Fairfax court, claiming that he was defamed by her in a 2018 Washington Post article, where she wrote about being “a public figure representing domestic abuse”. His name was not mentioned in the op-ed.
Amber Heard had responded with a counter-suit for $100million.
The seven-person jury on Wednesday rewarded Depp compensatory damages of $10m (£8m) and a further $5m (£4m) in punitive damages. He had originally filed the lawsuit seeking $50m. The jury also found in favor of Heard, who said she was defamed by Depp’s lawyer when he called her abuse allegations a hoax. She was awarded $2m.
Heard, reacted to the verdict while leaving the court.
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“The disappointment I feel today is beyond words. I’m heartbroken that the mountain of evidence still was not enough to stand up to the disproportionate power, influence, and sway of my ex-husband,” she said.
Heard further added that the verdict set ‘back the clock to a time when a woman who spoke up and spoke out could be publicly shamed and humiliated’.
“I’m even more disappointed with what this verdict means for other women. It sets back the idea that violence against women is to be taken seriously,’ she added.
Depp said he never hit Heard and was never out of control when drinking, though Heard’s attorneys highlighted text messages Depp sent to friends recounting the copious amount of alcohol and drugs he had taken at that time.
“I believe Johnny’s attorneys succeeded in getting the jury to overlook the key issue of Freedom of Speech and ignore evidence that was so conclusive that we won in the UK. I’m sad I lost this case. But I am sadder still that I seem to have lost a right I thought I had as an American – to speak freely and openly,” Heard added.
Depp, meanwhile, said that the verdict starts a new chapter in his life.