Following Johnny Depp’s US defamation case win against ex-wife Amber Heard, we take a look at why Johnny Depp lose against the Sun in the UK, but win against Amber Heard in the US?
In 2020, J ohnny Depp lost a UK libel case against The Sun after his ex-wife Amber Heard gave evidence to back its claim that he was a ‘wife-beater’.
Fast-forward to June 2022, and the Pirates of The Caribbean actor has won his multimillion-dollar US lawsuit against former wife Heard after a Virginia jury ruled a 2018 article published in The Washington Post was defamatory.
Depp was awarded $15m by the court – comprising $10m compensatory damages and a further $5m in punitive damages – but the judge capped the punitive damages total in accordance with legal limits, resulting in a total of $10.35m.
Meanwhile, Heard was awarded $2m in her counter-suit against Depp.
Despite the seven-person jury ruling in favour of Heard on one count in her counter-suit against Depp, the actor depicted the decision as a vindication, and his former wife said it was ‘a disappointment’.
Heard’s evidence was rejected by a jury in Virginia despite it being assumed by many, including legal experts, that Depp had a weaker chance of victory following his loss in the UK.
Why did Johnny Depp lose against the Sun in the UK, but win against Amber Heard in the US?
According to international media lawyer Mark Stephens, the fact the US case was heard before a jury while the UK trial was heard before a judge was immensely significant in terms of Depp’s win.
Speaking to The Guardian, Stephens revealed Depp’s lawyers were able to ‘focus on Heard’ in front of the jury.
“Because the US trial was before a jury, it allowed Depp’s lawyers to focus on Heard,” a tactic which was dismissed by the judge in the UK.
“They deny that they [their client] did anything, they deny they’re the real perpetrator, and they attack the credibility of the individual calling out the abuse, and then reverse the roles of the victim and the offender.”
Mr Stephens says Heard’s legal team also made a number of ‘tactical mistakes’ and were outdone by a more experienced set of lawyers – who were quickly praised by social media users watching the trial daily.
“Heard’s team were not predominantly trained libel lawyers and they were outgunned at every corner,” Stephens told.
“They were up against a very strong team for Depp.”
Elsewhere, Stephens suggests that social media was used to ‘undermine Heard’s case’ and boost Depp’s case.
“What we have witnessed in the US over this case has been an overwhelming case for Depp on social media. It is like an anti-Heard campaign.”
For example, on viral social media platform, TikTok, the hashtag #justiceforjohnnydepp received over 19bn views in the six weeks of the trial.
Speaking to The Guardian, Persephone Bridgman Baker, a partner at libel specialists Carter-Ruck, suggested that the jury simply believed Depp’s case.
“There seems no more obvious explanation than that the jury simply believed Depp’s evidence in the US proceedings, or, if you accept that a Darvo strategy was employed, that the jury accepted it,” they told.
“There was more evidence in the US proceedings about Heard’s credibility, on which the judge in the UK placed little importance: that is likely to have been a deliberate strategic decision by Depp’s team.
“While the judge in the UK proceedings decided Heard was a credible witness, that additional evidence may have swung a jury,” she said.
Depp ‘at peace’ after victorious win
POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Following his win, Depp said he was ‘truly humbled’ by the jury’s verdict, saying the allegations had a ‘seismic impact’ on his life and career.
“From the very beginning, the goal of bringing this case was to reveal the truth, regardless of the outcome,” he said.
“Speaking the truth was something that I owed to my children and to all those who have remained steadfast in their support of me.
“I feel at peace knowing I have finally accomplished that.”
AFP via Getty Images)
Meanwhile, Heard said she was ‘heartbroken’ by the conclusion.
The Aquaman actress said it ‘sets back the clock to a time when a woman who spoke up and spoke out could be publicly shamed and humiliate’..
“I’m sad I lost this case. But I am sadder still that I seem to have lost a right I thought I had as an American – to speak freely and openly.”