LONDON (Reuters) – Hollywood star Johnny Depp appeared in a London court on Wednesday to hear his lawyer argue that Depp’s ex-wife had lied when she accused him of beating her in comments quoted by the tabloid newspaper the Sun.
Depp, the 55-year-old star of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” films, is suing the tabloid’s publisher, News Group Newspapers, and its executive editor Dan Wootton for libel over an article Wootton wrote in 2018 calling Depp a “wife beater”.
Depp himself attended the High Court for the first day of the pre-trial review. The trial proper is due to start on March 23 and last two weeks.
Both Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard accused each other of physical abuse during their relationship. Heard first made allegations in 2016, which Depp denied.
“One of them is lying and doing so on a grand scale,” said a skeleton argument submitted by Depp’s lawyers and distributed to journalists.
“It is a very important function therefore of this libel trial that these allegations are tested, and either proved or disproved.”
The onus in the case is on the Sun to prove that it has not committed libel. It will argue simply that the article is not defamatory because it is true.
The skeleton argument requested that the court agree to hear witnesses living in California by video-link during the London afternoon, to accommodate the eight-hour time difference.
News Group Newspapers is owned by the New York-listed News Corp.
(Reporting by Elizabeth Howcroft; Editing by Alistair Smout and Kevin Liffey)