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Amber Heard made domestic violence claims to blackmail Johnny Depp, court hears

Isaac Baruch, a long-standing friend of the actor, gave evidence at the libel trial at the High Court.

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Actress Amber Heard at the High Court (Victoria Jones/PA)

Actress Amber Heard at the High Court (Victoria Jones/PA)

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Actress Amber Heard at the High Court in London (Victoria Jones/PA)

Actress Amber Heard at the High Court in London (Victoria Jones/PA)

Actress Amber Heard at the High Court (Victoria Jones/PA)

Amber Heard made “fraudulent” allegations of domestic violence against Johnny Depp to “extort and blackmail him”, a long-standing friend of the actor has told the High Court.

Isaac Baruch, an artist who has known the Hollywood star for 40 years, said Mr Depp told him that Ms Heard “likes to argue and likes to hit” and said: “I’m not gonna hit her, I love her.”

Giving evidence by video-link from the US, Mr Baruch said he saw Ms Heard’s face and did not see “a single mark” on May 22 2016, the day after Mr Depp, 57, allegedly threw his ex-wife’s mobile phone at her and hit her in the face.

Mr Baruch – who lived rent-free in one of five penthouses in the Eastern Columbia Building in Los Angeles owned by Mr Depp – described the Hollywood star as an “ubermensch” and “an ultimate good guy”.

He also told the court that Mr Depp called Ms Heard, 34, a “c***” in a text to him “because she filed for a fraudulent domestic violence claim to push her hand and extort and blackmail him”.

Mr Depp’s blockbuster libel action against The Sun’s publisher News Group Newspapers (NGN) continued on Friday over an April 2018 article by the tabloid’s executive editor Dan Wootton which labelled him a “wife beater”.

In his evidence, Travis McGivern – a member of Mr Depp’s security team – said the Aquaman actress spat at, punched and threw a can of Red Bull at the actor during a heated row in March 2015.

The court heard from actress and #MeToo activist Katherine Kendall, who claims she was “completely misquoted and misused by The Sun”, and Alejandro Romero, a concierge at the Eastern Columbia Building, who claims Elon Musk regularly visited Amber Heard late at night.

Ms Heard’s former interior designer Laura Divenere also gave evidence and said she felt “pressured” to sign a declaration in separate libel proceedings in the US – brought by Mr Depp against Ms Heard – to “say things that were unfavourable” about the actress.

On Friday, the ninth day of the trial, the court heard a text message sent by Mr Depp to Mr Baruch in October 2016 which read: “I hate it but I’ve got to lose those f****** penthouses. That c*** ruined such a f****** cool life we led for a while. I can’t even look at the building anymore.

“F***** up. I really loved that spot.”

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Actress Amber Heard at the High Court (Victoria Jones/PA)

Actress Amber Heard at the High Court (Victoria Jones/PA)

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Actress Amber Heard at the High Court (Victoria Jones/PA)

NGN’s barrister Sasha Wass QC asked if Mr Depp was referring to Ms Heard when he said “that c***”.

Mr Baruch laughed and replied: “Yes.”

Mr Romero gave evidence that Mr Musk visited Ms Heard “regularly late at night” from March 2015, with the Tesla founder later being given a remote control for the building’s garage and a fob to enter Mr Depp’s penthouse.

The concierge told the court he remembered that it was in March 2015 because it was around the time Mr Depp lost the tip of his middle finger in disputed circumstances on a trip to Australia.

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Johnny Depp arriving at the High Court (Yui Mok/PA)

Johnny Depp arriving at the High Court (Yui Mok/PA)

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Johnny Depp arriving at the High Court (Yui Mok/PA)

Ms Divenere was played a recording of a conversation between her and Ms Heard, recorded without the designer’s knowledge, after she was allegedly “forced” into signing a declaration by Mr Depp’s American lawyer Adam Waldman.

In the conversation, she described Mr Waldman as “the biggest asshole under the sun” and asked Ms Heard to get her lawyers to “get me to do a declaration, too, and question me, so then I can say something in your favour”.

Ms Divenere can also be heard to say: “I didn’t know any of this knowledge beforehand, I mean it was literally afterwards – you always hid it from me.”

Ms Heard responds: “It’s not your fault, you didn’t know – I hid it from everyone. It’s what people do.”

She added: “But after, you know, after the divorce, you know, right, immediately after that incident, my eye was – did you see my face?”

The final witness of the day, Ms Kendall, told the court that calling out disgraced film mogul Harvey Weinstein was “one of the scariest, most difficult things I have ever done”.

In her witness statement, she said she was contacted by an “extremely persistent” journalist from The Sun called Zoe – who she claimed had “stalked” her – and only spoke to her “out of politeness”.

Ms Kendall said that, after reading the April 2018 article, “I immediately understood that The Sun’s purpose was to present the appearance of a #MeToo backlash”.

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Amber Heard and Johnny Depp married in Los Angeles in February 2015 (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Amber Heard and Johnny Depp married in Los Angeles in February 2015 (Jonathan Brady/PA)

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Amber Heard and Johnny Depp married in Los Angeles in February 2015 (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Ms Heard is due to be called as the first defence witness on Monday and is expected to give evidence over three days at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.

Mr Justice Nicol is also expected to hear an application by NGN’s lawyers to call expert evidence about whether images apparently showing injuries to Ms Heard have been “manipulated or edited” in some way.

Mr Depp is suing NGN and Mr Wootton over the publication of an article on April 27 2018 with the headline: “Gone Potty: How can JK Rowling be ‘genuinely happy’ casting wife beater Johnny Depp in the new Fantastic Beasts film?”

His lawyers say the article bore the meaning there was “overwhelming evidence” Mr Depp assaulted Ms Heard on a number of occasions and left her “in fear for her life”.

NGN is defending the article as true, and says Mr Depp was “controlling and verbally and physically abusive towards Ms Heard, particularly when he was under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs”.

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