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Explained: Why actor Amber Heard and her ex-husband Johnny Depp are returning to court

After losing a libel case involving his ex-wife Amber Heard, Hollywood actor Johnny Depp filed another libel lawsuit in Virginia, US, which began on Monday.

Depp is suing Heard, also an actor, for defamation in a $50 million libel lawsuit that was filed in March 2019 over an opinion piece Heard wrote for The Washington Post in 2018, in which she describes her experience of speaking out against sexual violence. She also spoke about the lessons she learned from the #MeToo movement. In the article, Heard did not name Depp or mention specific details about their married life.

But she said: “Like many women, I had been harassed and sexually assaulted by the time I was of college age. But I kept quiet – I didn’t expect what to wear complaint does justice. And I didn’t see myself as a victim.”

“Then, two years ago, I became a public figure representing domestic violence, and I felt the force of our culture’s anger for women speaking out,” she wrote.

In July 2020, Depp launched a separate legal action against the publisher of the British tabloid The Sun and its editor Dan Wootton in the High Court in London, over a 2018 article in which Wootton referred to Depp as ” wife beater”.

The article titled, “Gone Potty – How can JK Rowling be ‘really happy’ to cast wife’s drummer Johnny Depp in new Fantastic Beasts movie?”, was written after JK Rowling backed Depp’s casting in the lead role of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.

Depp lost the case in November 2020. The judge concluded that the article published in the tabloid was “substantially true”. Depp was also not allowed to appeal the judge’s decision.

What are the allegations against Depp?

Depp and Heard were married for a 15-month period beginning in 2015. Heard filed for divorce in 2016 and claimed Depp assaulted her.

Depp has denied all of these accusations, saying he never hit her. In one of the bizarre counter-accusations, Depp said Heard left human feces on their bed in their Los Angeles home.

Heard also submitted evidence in court to support the Sun’s article.

In one of the incidents, Heard describes a “three-day hostage situation” while Depp was filming for his film “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” in Australia, during which time she claimed Depp had choked and pushed her. on the ground after finding a bag of MDMA pills.

Depp has denied all of these claims and maintains that during the incident he injured his finger when Heard threw two bottles of vodka at him after learning he was planning a post-nuptial agreement. his finger smashing a phone against the wall.

In 2016, a Los Angeles court granted Heard a temporary restraining order just days after he filed for divorce citing irreconcilable differences. She accused Depp of punching her in their Los Angeles apartment in May 2016 when police said they found no evidence of a crime. .

However, days before the restraining order hearing, Heard withdrew the abuse allegations against Depp and entered into a $7 million divorce settlement. In a joint statement released by Depp and Heard at the time , they acknowledged that their relationship was “volatile” and that neither of them wanted to hurt the other physically or emotionally. Heard also mentioned in the statement that she would donate the divorce proceeds to charity.

How has this affected Depp’s career?

Following the loss in the London Affair in November 2020, Depp announced he was stepping down from his role in the third installment of JK Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts franchise.

In an Instagram post, Depp wrote, “Warner Bros. has asked me to step down from my role as Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts and I have respected and accepted that request.” moment.”

A report by The Guardian notes that after the London trial, “Depp’s image waned with tales of off-screen excess before his star power was all but extinguished”.

Even so, at the time of the trial, Depp remained the face of one of the luxury brand Dior’s fragrances and was criticized for it.

What are Depp and his lawyers saying?

Depp denied hitting Heard and also dismissed Heard’s claims that he was violent towards her, calling them “sick”. At the libel trial in London, Depp told the court that the newspaper’s claims calling him a “wife beater” were “completely untrue”. ” “.

In fact, Depp accused Heard of “building a case” against him. Depp’s former partners, actress Winona Ryder and singer Vanessa Paradis, also provided statements supporting him. In her statement, Ryder wrote, “I knew Johnny very well years ago. We had been together as a couple for four years, and I considered him my best friend, and as close to me as my family. I consider our relationship one of the most important relationships of my life.

In Depp’s own statement, he argues that his ex-wife fabricated the domestic violence allegations and that she arrived in court in May 2016 with “painted bruises that witnesses and surveillance footage show she didn’t. didn’t have every day of the previous week”. According to a Washington Post report, Depp also accused Heard of abusing him throughout the relationship.

According to The Guardian, in the ongoing trial which is expected to last six weeks, Depp’s lawyers will have to achieve a higher burden of proof to win, which means they will have to prove that Heard defamed Depp but also did so. with malice.

His “attorneys claim Heard orchestrated an elaborate hoax to cripple Depp’s career, an allegation that led her to file a $100 million counterclaim. They plan to introduce testimony and review texts and photographs…” reported The Guardian.

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