UK appeals court to consider Depp libel case in March

·2-min read

Hollywood star Johnny Depp's bid to overturn a British court's high-profile libel ruling that he assaulted his ex-wife Amber Heard will be considered next month, it emerged on Tuesday.

The Court of Appeal in London will hear the application brought by the "Pirates of the Caribbean" actor to review the libel case against a UK newspaper group in the second half of March, it said.

In an order issued Monday, judge Nicholas Underhill said the appeal bid and an attempt to introduce new evidence not heard at last July's trial would both be considered at the hearing between March 15 and 31.

Depp, 57, lost his High Court libel claim in November against the publishers of The Sun newspaper over a 2018 article that branded him a "wife beater".

He was ordered to pay News Group Newspapers £628,000 ($857,000, 713,000 euros) in legal costs from the trial, which laid bare the actor's chaotic lifestyle and battles with alcohol and drug addiction.

Judge Andrew Nicol, who heard the case, refused him grounds to appeal but said he could apply directly to the Court of Appeal to overturn his judgment, which Depp subsequently did.

In documents since filed with the Court of Appeal, Depp's lawyer David Sherborne claimed Nicol's judgment was "plainly wrong".

He argued the judge had "failed to examine the competing accounts" of each incident of alleged violence by Depp towards Heard, or "explain whether he found them proved and, if so, on what basis".

However, Adam Wolanski, the lawyer representing NGN, countered that Nicol had conducted "a painstaking analysis of the evidence".

"There is no basis to conclude that the judge failed to examine the evidence or provide reasons for his findings," he added in his submission.

After the November ruling, Depp said he had been asked to step down from his role in the "Fantastic Beasts" film franchise based on the book by Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling.

He is also suing Heard in the United States over a 2018 Washington Post article in which she claimed to be a victim of domestic violence.

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