Johnny Depp libel trial: The surprises and revelations


It has been a libel trial like no other.

While Johnny Depp’s claim against News Group Newspapers (NGN), publisher of The Sun newspaper, and its executive editor Dan Wootton, is over an April 2018 article which labelled him a “wife beater”, the case has had twists and turns with each day bringing with it unexpected revelations.

Johnny Depp court case
Johnny Depp court case

From the defecation incident dubbed “Amber Turd” to the Yorkshire Terrier eating cannabis to the case of the severed finger, the PA news agency takes a look at some of the trial’s most memorable moments.

– Amber Heard claimed she heard a “rumour” that Johnny Depp pushed Kate Moss down the stairs

Ms Heard told the High Court she rushed to her sister’s aid after she remembered the “information” during an alleged “nasty row” with Mr Depp, when she thought he was going to push her sibling down a flight of stairs.

Johnny Depp court case
Johnny Depp court case

Telling the court she “did strike Johnny that day in defence of my sister”, Ms Heard said: “He was about to push her down the stairs and, the moment before that happened, I remembered information I had heard (that) he pushed a former girlfriend – I believe it was Kate Moss – down the stairs.

“I had heard this rumour from two people and it was fresh in my mind.”

Eleanor Laws QC, representing Mr Depp, said Ms Heard had never mentioned the story about Ms Moss before and accused her of “making this up as you go along”.

– Johnny Depp and his severed finger during “three-day hostage situation”

Mr Depp accused Ms Heard of severing his finger by throwing a vodka bottle at him when the pair were in Australia in 2015.

He said he “ended up getting MRSA” after having surgery to put a pin in the broken bone.

Johnny Depp court case
Johnny Depp court case

Ms Heard said the injury to Mr Depp’s finger took place during what she described as a “three-day hostage situation”, and in her statement she said she “figured it might have happened when he was smashing the phone on the wall by the fridge”.

During the trial, Eleanor Laws QC put it to Ms Heard that the injury was caused by her “throwing a bottle in his direction, smashing it down and severing the tip of his finger with glass,” to which Ms Heard replied: “No.”

The court heard that Mr Depp used his severed finger, dipped in paint, to scrawl graffiti in the house.

– The defecation incident in the bedroom

The question of who left faeces in Amber Heard and Johnny Depp’s bed – and whether it came from man or beast – has occupied much of the court’s time, and the trial heard that jokes including “Amber Turd” and “Amber in the dumps” emerged from the episode.

The now infamous “defecation incident” occurred the day after Ms Heard’s 30th birthday party in April 2016, when excrement was found in the bed at the couple’s penthouse in Los Angeles’ Eastern Columbia Building.

Mr Depp told the court it was “a mystery” who defecated in the bed, adding he was “convinced” Ms Heard “or one of her cohort” was involved.

He also opined that the incident was “a fitting end to the relationship”.

But Ms Heard said the suggestion she left the excrement is “absolutely disgusting” and that it is “unimaginable” that one of her friends had done it, adding, she “can’t fathom what adult would ever do such a thing”.

She has claimed that one of the couple’s dogs, Pistol and Boo, may have been responsible for the mess.

– Johnny Depp had nicknames for Amber Heard’s male co-stars

Ms Heard said Mr Depp accused her of having affairs with stars including Leonardo DiCaprio, who he nicknamed “pumpkin-head”.

Ms Heard said she had to justify to Mr Depp why she accepted film roles and said the situation was “much worse” if there were sex scenes or kissing.

She has alleged that Mr Depp would “taunt” her and had nicknames for all of her male co-stars that he considered a “sexual threat”.

In her witness statement, she said: “For example, Leonardo DiCaprio was ‘pumpkin-head’, Channing Tatum was ‘potato-head’ and ‘Jim Turd Sturgess’.”

– Johnny Depp, Amber Heard, and “the monster”

Ms Heard claimed Mr Depp threatened to kill her “many times, especially later in our relationship”, and would blame his actions on a “self-created third party” he called “the monster” – who she said she was “terrified of”.

As Mr Depp repeated his denial that he had been violent towards Ms Heard, he said he described himself as a “monster” in a bid to placate her.

Mr Depp told the court that “the monster” was something his ex-wife “became obsessed with”.

At one point during the trial, Ms Heard said: “Johnny, the monster rather, nearly killed me – but I loved him.”

In another reference, the court heard Mr Depp had used the word in an email to Sir Elton John, saying it was “a simple fact’ that he “would have been swallowed up by the monster were it not for you (Sir Elton)”.

Mr Depp explained that he meant he “would have been consumed by this poison – the monster here is death”.

– Winona Ryder and Vanessa Paradis hail “loving” former partner Johnny Depp

Ms Ryder and Ms Paradis described the “horrific” and “outrageous” allegations of domestic violence made against Mr Depp by Ms Heard as “impossible to believe”.

The pair – who both said Mr Depp was “never violent or abusive” to them – were due to appear via videolink from their respective homes in Los Angeles and France in support of Mr Depp’s libel claim but his legal team decided not to call them to give live evidence.

Their witness statements were released to the media following an application by the PA news agency, and Ms Ryder, who starred with Mr Depp in the film Edward Scissorhands, said her experience with Mr Depp was “wildly different” to the one depicted by Ms Heard.

Ms Ryder said she knows Mr Depp as “a really good man – an incredibly loving, extremely caring guy”.

Ms Paradis, who was in a relationship with Mr Depp for 14 years and had two children with him, said she has known him for more than 25 years and described him as “a kind, attentive, generous, and non-violent person and father”.

She said: “On movie sets the actors, directors and entire crews adore him because he is humble and respectful to everyone, as well as being one of the best actors we’ve seen.”

– Johnny Depp appeared to say he gave his 13-year-old daughter drugs

The Hollywood A-lister appeared to say he gave his then 13-year-old daughter Lily-Rose cannabis as a “responsible parent”.

He seemed to say he had given it to her because he did not want her to go “into some paranoid tailspin and I knew that the marijuana I had myself, that I smoke myself, is trustworthy”.

During his stint in the witness box, Mr Depp said he smoked “a lot of marijuana when I was in a relationship with Ms Heard”, adding that there were “a lot of medicinal qualities to cannabis”.

NGN’s barrister Ms Wass asked: “Is that why you encouraged your daughter to use weed?”

Mr Depp replied: “I never encouraged my daughter to use marijuana.”

Ms Wass read a series of emails between Mr Depp and his daughter which she said showed him “teaching her about smoking cannabis when she is only 13 years old”.

Mr Depp explained that he had told his daughter: “Please do me the honour of coming to me when you are ready, when you really feel you are ready, because I don’t want your first experience in this world to be with people you don’t know, taking things you don’t know that I can’t trust, so it’s a safety issue.

“It is a father worried about his daughter in these kind of situations and when she came to me and said ‘I’m ready’ I spoke with her mother… Vanessa (Paradis, his ex-partner) spoke with her.

“I know that the most important thing for a child, if they are going to do something like that, I would rather have them be honest and have me be honest with them so that she doesn’t go out there and do these things and hide them from me.”

He added: “If that is wrong in your eyes, I appreciate what you think but I was raising a daughter and I was being a responsible parent as far as I was concerned.”

– The dog who ate cannabis

The High Court heard that their Yorkshire Terrier, named Boo, once ate cannabis after “scooping it up” before Mr Depp could reach it.

It was suggested to Mr Depp during the trial that it was about an ounce of hash, but he said: “I wouldn’t say it was an ounce.”

He added: “The puppy got a hold of a little ball of hashish and just scooped it up before I could get to it.”

The court also heard about an alleged incident in which it is claimed Mr Depp held another one of the couple’s dogs, a Yorkshire terrier called Pistol, out of a car window, which he dismissed as “utter falsity”.

Sasha Wass QC, counsel for NGN, said: “And you took hold of Pistol and you held her out of the window and started making howling noises.”

The actor responded: “I can say it is a very endearing image, but it is absolute utter falsity, it is fraudulent.”

– The bombshell video

As the third week of the trial drew to a close, Johnny Depp’s legal team told the court it had been sent a video from an “anonymous source” which they said showed Amber Heard “assaulted” her sister, Whitney Henriquez.

His lawyers said the video had been sent the evening after a day in which Ms Henriquez gave evidence that her sister had never attacked her.

Mr Depp’s lawyers claimed the video demonstrated Ms Henriquez was “lying” in her evidence and had “tailored” her testimony “to meet her sister’s evidence”.

The bombshell footage, played to the court, shows Ms Henriquez during the filming of a reality TV show, poolside with friends, with one person heard to say “did you get in a fight?” and then “I can’t believe Amber beat your ass”.

A woman then appears to inspect Ms Henriquez’ cheek and arm, as Ms Henriquez repeatedly says she is not going to talk about it.

Asked in court if what the women in the clip were asking about was “a fight between you and your sister”, Ms Henriquez said: “We were referencing a verbal argument my sister and I had got into the night before.”

She said her friends were “inferring, trying to make a storyline, albeit a bad one, interesting, nothing more”.