Johnny Depp's Libel Claim Over Abuse Claims Will Go Ahead After Ruling

Actor Johnny Depp's libel claim against British newspaper The Sun over allegations made in an article that he was "a wife beater" will go ahead next week, the High Court has ruled.

Depp is suing the tabloid's publisher, Newsgroup Newspapers (NGN), as well as its executive editor Dan Wootton for an article that appeared in April 2018 claiming Depp was violent towards ex-wife Amber Heard.

The article centered on allegations made by his ex-wife Heard, who claimed that Depp was violent towards her during their marriage, allegations Depp strenuously denies.

Lawyers for News Group Newspapers had argued that Depp's libel claim be struck out over his failure to disclose what is being referred to as the "Australia drugs texts".

Adam Wolanski QC said the Hollywood actor was in serious breach of a court order, given that the texts between Depp and his assistant, Nathan Holmes, are alleged to show Depp trying to obtain drugs in Australia.

It is argued by NGN that the messages were sent in late February and early March 2015, shortly before an alleged incident in Australia between Depp and Heard, which she claims was "a three-day ordeal of physical assaults".

Wolanski QC argued that "happy pills" and "whitey stuff" showed Depp was trying to obtain MDMA and cocaine, which he said was "profoundly damaging to his case".

Mr. Justice Nicol said Depp had breached an "unless order" which required him to disclose documents from separate libel proceedings against Heard in the U.S. - which include the text messages.

Johnny Depp Libel case against Sun
Depp strenuously denies allegations he was violent towards ex-wife Amber Heard Getty

Justice Nicol said: "The Australian drug texts were adverse to the claimant's pleaded case and/or were supportive of the defendants' pleaded case."

Nonetheless, the ruling will go ahead, but the judge said it was conditional upon Depp not pursuing sanctions against Heard for allegedly breaching a court order, made during separate libel proceedings in the US, and providing The Sun's legal team with evidence.

Depp's lawyers also claimed that Heard had "two extra-marital affairs" with SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk and actor James Franco, with Depp asking for all communication between Heard and a contact saved in her phone as 'Rocketman', who Depp claims is Musk.

Depp's lawyers claimed the alleged "extra-marital affairs" were relevant to the case as "multiple affairs" would prove "false motive" for the alleged violence Heard says she suffered due to "Depp's supposed paranoia and mistaken belief" that she was unfaithful.

However, Justice Nicol rejected the application.

He said: "The central issue for the defense of truth is whether Mr. Depp assaulted Ms. Heard.

"Even if she had been unfaithful to him, that would be irrelevant on that central issue.

"I am not therefore persuaded that these categories of documents are necessary for the fair disposal of the litigation."

The libel trial against The Sun and its executive editor will begin at the Royal Courts of Justice in London on Tuesday 7 July.