Johnny Depp awarded $15m as he wins defamation case against ex-wife Amber Heard

1 June 2022, 20:26 | Updated: 2 June 2022, 07:44

Johnny Depp has won his US libel case against ex-wife Amber Heard.
Johnny Depp has won his US libel case against ex-wife Amber Heard. Picture: Alamy/Getty

By Sophie Barnett

Johnny Depp has said he is "at peace" after winning his multi-million dollar lawsuit against ex-wife Amber Heard after a jury ruled her article in the Washington Post was defamatory.

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Mr Depp sued the Aquaman star for 50 million US dollars over a newspaper article titled: "I spoke up against sexual violence - and faced our culture's wrath. That has to change."

The article did not mention Mr Depp by name, but his lawyers said it falsely implied he physically and sexually abused the Ms Heard while they were together.

Following six weeks of evidence and roughly 13 hours of deliberation jurors reached a decision. They were initially due to read the verdict at 8pm UK time, but were sent back to the deliberation room by the judge to finish a verdict form.

They found both Ms Heard and Mr Depp liable for defamation in their lawsuits against each other, with Ms Heard defaming the Pirates of the Caribbean actor in three separate statements and Mr Depp defaming Ms Heard with one statement his attorney made.

Mr Depp was awarded compensatory damages of 10 million dollars (£8 million) and a further five million dollars (£4 million) in punitive damages.

He was seen shaking hands with fans and drinking with Sam Fender and Jeff Beck at The Bridge Tavern in Gateshead around the time verdicts were read out at the court in Virginia.

Meanwhile, Ms Heard was awarded $2 million in in her counter-suit for compensatory damages and no money for punitive damages.

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Johnny Depp's lawyers speaking after the ruling.
Johnny Depp's lawyers speaking after the ruling. Picture: Getty

Mr Depp was not in court for the decision - he remains in the UK where he has been performing over the weekend, appearing on stage alongside musician Jeff Beck in Sheffield and London's Royal Albert Hall.

He tuned in to a televised stream of the verdict.

Taking to Instagram after the verdict was read out, Mr Depp said he "feels at peace" and is "truly humbled" after winning his lawsuit.

He said the jury has "given me my life back".

"The best is yet to come and a new chapter has finally begun," he wrote.

Ms Heard, who was sitting between members of her legal team at the front of the court room, had her head bowed as the ruling was read out by the judge.

In an official statement released on her behalf, Ms Heard said she feels "heartbroken" by the verdict and "what this means for other women".

"The disappointment I feel today is beyond words," she said.

"I'm heartbroken that the mountain of evidence still was not enough to stand up to the disproportionate power, influence, and sway of my ex-husband.

"I’m even more disappointed with what this verdict means for other women. It is a setback. It sets back the clock to a time when a woman who spoke up and spoke out could be publicly shamed and humiliated. It sets back the idea that violence against women is to be taken seriously.

"I believe Johnny’s attorneys succeeded in getting the jury to overlook the key issue of Freedom of Speech and ignore evidence that was so conclusive that we won in the UK.

"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.”

Read more: Johnny Depp's allegations stopped Amber Heard from getting really famous, says agent

Amber Heard hugs her lawyer after the jury said that they believe she defamed Johnny Depp
Amber Heard hugs her lawyer after the jury said that they believe she defamed Johnny Depp. Picture: Getty

Mr Depp had consistently denied the "outrageous, outlandish" claims of abuse and said he had "spoken up for what I have been carrying on my back reluctantly for six years" during his own evidence.

The court previously heard that descriptions of Mr Depp's drug use and violence were exaggerated by Ms Heard and her legal team.

Mr Depp's legal team left the Virginia court house following the ruling, being greeted with cheers from a waiting crowd.

In a short statement, Camille Vasquez, a lawyer for the actor, said the verdict "confirms what we have said from the beginning, that the claims against Johnny Depp are defamatory and unsupported by any evidence."

She said they "are grateful, so grateful, to the jury for their careful deliberations" before also thanking the judge and court staff for "devoting an enormous amount of time and resources" to the case.