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Amber Heard to begin evidence in Johnny Depp ‘wife beater’ libel trial

The biggest English libel trial of the 21st century is entering its third week.

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Actress Amber Heard arrives at the High Court (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Actress Amber Heard arrives at the High Court (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Actress Amber Heard arrives at the High Court (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Amber Heard is to begin three days of evidence at the High Court as part of Johnny Depp’s libel case against The Sun over allegations of domestic violence during the pair’s tempestuous relationship.

The Aquaman actress, 34, has been present throughout the trial at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, watching from the public gallery as her ex-husband, 57, gave evidence over five days.

On Monday, it will be Ms Heard’s turn to face questioning over 14 allegations of domestic violence – all denied by Mr Depp – which the tabloid’s publisher News Group Newspapers (NGN) relies on in its defence of an April 2018 article that called the Hollywood star a “wife beater”.

Ms Heard claims Mr Depp hit her for the first time in early 2013 – and later apologised for turning into “the Monster” – and subjected her to a “three-day hostage situation” in Australia in March 2015, when the actor lost the top of his middle finger in disputed circumstances.

She also alleges that the Pirates Of The Caribbean star threw a bottle of champagne at her and shoved her to the floor after turning up late, “drunk and high on drugs” to her 30th birthday party in April 2016 – before leaving a note which read: “Happy f****** birthday.”

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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)

Mr Depp, however, says that he was “not violent towards Ms Heard – it was she who was violent to him” and has accused his ex-wife of “building a dossier” of false allegations as an “insurance policy for later”.

The actor claims Ms Heard hit him on numerous occasions and alleges that she or one of her friends defecated in the couple’s bed on the night of the 30th birthday party, later admitting that it was “just a harmless prank” – which Ms Heard denies.

As the biggest English libel trial of the 21st century enters its third week, Ms Heard will be quizzed by Mr Depp’s barrister David Sherborne over claims she severed the top of the actor’s finger with a vodka bottle and had “stolen” her former personal assistant’s account of a machete-point rape for “her own use”.

Ms Heard is also likely to face questions over allegations that she was having an affair with actor James Franco and Tesla founder Elon Musk while in a relationship with Mr Depp, as well as claims that she “deliberately smuggled” two Yorkshire terriers, Pistol and Boo, into Australia illegally in April 2015.

Parts of Ms Heard’s evidence, relating to allegations of sexual violence, will be heard in private, with the press and public briefly excluded from the proceedings.

Before she begins her evidence on Monday morning, Mr Justice Nicol is likely to hear an application by NGN for permission to call expert evidence about whether images apparently showing injuries to Ms Heard – alleged to have been caused by Mr Depp – have been “manipulated or edited” in some way.

The court has so far heard nine days of evidence about Mr Depp’s Hollywood lifestyle, his use of drink and drugs and his attitudes towards women, as well as his and Ms Heard’s volatile relationship – described by Mr Depp as “a crime scene waiting to happen”.

The actor has told the court he lost 650 million US dollars (£514 million) – which he says was “stolen” by his former business managers – without noticing, gave his then 13-year-old daughter Lily-Rose cannabis as a “responsible parent” and that Ms Heard called Mr Franco “rapey”.

Mr Depp has also admitted giving misleading evidence about the “Boston plane incident” in May 2014 – when Ms Heard says he kicked her in the back and “screamed obscenities” at her – and “accidentally” headbutting his ex-wife while she was “flailing and punching” him in December 2015.

But Mr Depp says no other woman has ever accused him of violence and his former partners Winona Ryder and Vanessa Paradis – who were not called to give evidence – both say he was “never violent or abusive” to them.

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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)

Parts of Ms Heard’s witness statement, which have been heard in open court, allege Mr Depp “attacked me a lot of times, on many different occasions” and was a “jealous” person who “doesn’t respect women”.

She also says Mr Depp caused her “significant injuries” and, on occasion, led her to “fear for her life”.

NGN’s lawyers claim that, when Mr Depp “failed to control his alcohol and substance abuse”, he “turned his rage and frustration on Ms Heard, berating her and launching into a variety of vile, crude and unreasonable accusations”.

The publisher also alleges: “On such occasions, Mr Depp’s aggression typically descended into physically destructive behaviour, including the use of violence against her.

“His ‘wife beating’ behaviour included throwing objects at her, slapping her across the face, kicking her, gripping her around the throat and threatening to kill her.”

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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)

Mr Depp and Ms Heard met on the 2011 film The Rum Diary and began living together in 2012 before marrying in Los Angeles in February 2015.

Ms Heard obtained a domestic violence restraining order against Mr Depp in LA shortly after the couple split in 2016 and later donated her seven million US dollars (£5.5 million) divorce settlement to charity.

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”.

Mr Depp is suing Ms Heard in separate libel proceedings in the US over a December 2018 column in the Washington Post, which did not mention Mr Depp by name, but said the actress received “the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out”.

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