Johnny Depp denies slapping Amber Heard after she mocked his 'Wino Forever' tattoo

8 July 2020, 14:09

Johnny Depp waves outside the High Court in London
Johnny Depp waves outside the High Court in London. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

Johnny Depp has denied slapping his ex-wife Amber Heard after she mocked his "Wino Forever" tattoo in the second day of explosive testimony at London's High Court.

The Hollywood star is currently suing the The Sun's publisher News Group Newspapers (NGN) over an article which called him a "wife beater" and referred to "overwhelming evidence" he attacked Ms Heard during their relationship, which he strenuously denies.

Ms Heard claims that Mr Depp first hit her in early 2013 - one of 14 separate allegations of domestic violence, all denied by Mr Depp, relied on by NGN in their defence.

Sasha Wass QC, for News Group Newspapers, asked Johnny Depp about a tattoo he had done on his arm during his relationship with actress Winona Ryder, which read "Winona Forever" and which he had changed to "Wino Forever" after they split.

The barrister asked if he thought it was a joke at the time, to which he replied: "Yes, it seemed fitting."

Ms Wass then probed the actor further about the alleged incident in March 2013, which Mr Depp agreed was at a time when he had "fallen off the wagon" following about 160 days of sobriety.

Ms Heard claims that Mr Depp first hit her in early 2013 - one of 14 separate allegations of domestic violence, all denied by Mr Depp
Ms Heard claims that Mr Depp first hit her in early 2013 - one of 14 separate allegations of domestic violence, all denied by Mr Depp. Picture: PA

The barrister put it to Mr Depp that he had slapped Amber Heard three times after she laughed at the "Wino Forever" tattoo during a period where he was drinking heavily.

She said: "Do you accept that Ms Heard was making a joke out of your tattoo, 'Wino Forever'?"

But Mr Depp denied recalling a such argument about his tattoos.

Ms Wass then accused Mr Depp of slapping Ms Heard across the face, which he denied.

She continued: "You slapped her more than once, because after you slapped her the first time, she didn't react, she just eyeballed you, she just stared at you, and that made you more angry and you slapped her again."

Mr Depp answered: "That is patently untrue."

Ms Wass then put it to the actor that he slapped his former wife three times in total during the incident, to which he replied: "I'm sorry but that is not true, you are mistaken."

Sasha Wass QC then put it to Johnny Depp that he "broke down" after coming to his senses and realising what he had done, to which he said: "I didn't hit Ms Heard."

Depp in a court sketch giving evidence
Depp in a court sketch giving evidence. Picture: PA

The barrister said: "You explained it wasn't you but it was your sickness, is that how you sometimes explain your behaviour - on an illness, on a sickness?"

The actor replied: "No, ma'am."

Ms Wass had opened the second day of Mr Depp's cross-examination by asking the actor about his drug use, saying: "Were you taking cocaine in March 2013?"

Mr Depp replied that it was "difficult to recollect if I was taking cocaine in March 2013... it's possible".

The barrister later told the court that Ms Heard had told Mr Depp "that she knew all about addiction because her father and, indeed, also her mother had also been drug users".

Mr Depp said that was true and that he became "very close" with Ms Heard's father and mother.

But the actor denied that Ms Heard had said "she could help him" with his drug use.

The actor's case against NGN and Mr Wootton arises out of the publication of an article on The Sun's website 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?"

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" between early 2013 and May 2016, when the couple split.

In a written outline of the actor's case, his barrister, David Sherborne, said the article made "defamatory allegations of the utmost seriousness" against Mr Depp, accusing him of committing serious assaults on Ms Heard and "inflicting such serious injuries that she feared for her life".

Mr Sherborne said: "The articles amount to a full-scale attack on the claimant as a 'wife beater', guilty of the most horrendous physical abuse.

"The claimant's position is clear - Ms Heard's allegations are complete lies.

"The claimant was not violent towards Ms Heard, it was she who was violent to him."

He added: "The marriage was at times physical, at her instigation, and on occasions he found it necessary to defend himself from her violence.

"He is not a wife beater and never has been."

A separate libel claim brought by Mr Depp against Ms Heard in the US, over a December 2018 column in the Washington Post - which said the actress received "the full force of our culture's wrath for women who speak out" but did not mention Mr Depp by name, is due to begin next January.

The pair met in 2011 and began living together in 2012 before marrying in Los Angeles in February 2015.