Dozens of screaming fans greeted Johnny Depp at London’s High Court Tuesday as the actor arrived for the final day of closing arguments. The women carried gifts and flowers—and signs emblazoned with slogans like “Justice for Johnny” and “Abuse has no gender. Men can be victims too,” per The Daily Mail.
It was a preview of the final statements to come from Depp’s attorney, David Sherborne—who on Tuesday branded Amber Heard a “compulsive liar” and argued that The Sun, whose publisher Depp is suing for libel, maliciously compared Depp to Harvey Weinstein and effectively added him to the “rogues gallery of abusers” exposed by the #MeToo movement.
Depp is suing The Sun publisher News Group Newspapers for libel over a Sun story that ran in 2018 with a headline calling Depp a “wife-beater.” The publisher’s defense rests on 14 allegations of domestic abuse from Amber Heard, which allegedly took place between 2013 and 2016.
Neither Depp nor Heard is on trial, but since the publisher’s defense rests on the legitimacy of Heard’s domestic abuse claims, arguments from both sides in this case have painted a harrowing picture of the former couple’s relationship.
The court has heard extensive accounts of arguments that ended with severed fingers and scatological insults that allegedly included Heard defecating on the couple’s marital bed and Depp spelling Heard’s name in urine after writing vague references to Carly Simon and infidelity on the wall in his own blood.
Heard claims that Depp’s violent outbursts made her fear for her life on multiple occasions. Depp, meanwhile, has consistently denied all allegations of abuse, and Sherborne’s arguments have labeled Heard as the abuser in the relationship. Depp alleges that Heard fabricated years’ worth of evidence as a “dossier” to frame him.
On Tuesday, Sherborne repeated his insistence that Depp “has never hit a woman in his entire life. Period. Full stop. Nada.” Heard’s evidence throughout the case, he said, has been “shifting” and “inconsistent,” The Daily Mail reports.
Sherborne repeated #MeToo activist Katherine Kendall’s claim that Heard appropriated her violent rape story for her own purposes, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
He also played a recording of a 2015 conversation in which Heard told Depp, “I didn't punch you... I'm sorry that I didn't hit you across the face in a proper slap, but I was hitting you, it was not punching you. Babe, you're not punched... You didn't get punched. You got hit. I’m sorry I hit you like this. But I did not punch you. I did not fucking deck you,” per Daily Mail.
“If it was a man who had said what Ms. Heard said and who had admitted to what she admitted to, this was Mr. Depp for example, and it was the other way around, can you imagine what consternation there would be?” Sherborne asked the court, calling the recording “a straightforward, unambiguous, unequivocal admission of hitting [Depp].”
Sherborne also said that Heard extemporaneously fabricated her explanation of the one time she does admit to striking Depp. In March 2015, Heard says she struck Depp to prevent him from hurting her sister. She said she did so after hearing a rumor that Depp once pushed Kate Moss down a flight of stairs while the two were dating.
Sherborne called that claim “unscripted malevolence.”
“This was a gratuitous and totally invented reference to Kate Moss,” Sherborne said, per The Daily Mail. “If you want to see the credibility of the witness that this case is so heavily dependent on, that tells you a lot... This invention shows that Miss Heard's evidence just can’t be relied upon.”
Depp and Heard met on the set of 2011’s The Rum Diary, and married in 2015. The next year Heard filed for divorce—and filed for a domestic-violence restraining order against Depp, who she said was both physically and verbally abusive. She would later donate her entire $7 million divorce settlement to the American Civil Liberties Union and Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles.
On Monday NGN’s attorney, Sasha Wass, alleged during her closing argument that Depp’s substance use issues impaired his memory. She referred to an unsent 2013 email from Heard, as well as text messages from Depp himself, to argue that Depp’s substance abuse awakened a violent alter-ego the actor himself has branded “The Monster.”
Because of his substance use, Wass argued, Depp’s recollection of events—and whether or not he abused Heard—is unreliable.
But the core of this case remains whether or not The Sun committed libel.
Speaking about the article in question on Tuesday, Sherborne noted that the court had not heard “from a single journalist” to defend the article—and accused The Sun of “acting as both judge and jury,” unilaterally claiming “that Depp is guilty (of a) series of serious and violent criminal offenses,” The Daily Mail reports.
The article, Sherborne further insisted, was “not researched at all.”
Justice Andrew Nichol is expected to deliver a decision in the case in September. Depp also has a separate $50 million defamation suit against Heard over a Washington Post story, which will be heard next January in court.