Volunteer writer, Leah Langley, discusses the infamous court case and its impacts on the media

Warning: This article contains themes of domestic abuse 

Back in May 2016, Amber Heard entered a court in Los Angeles in pursuit of a restraining order against her husband, Johnny Depp. She appeared to have a mark on her cheek and the court witnessed photographs of apparent facial bruising. Heard claimed that she had been “violently” attacked and that in a rage, a mobile phone had been thrown at her face with “extreme force,” by Depp. Several further allegations of domestic violence were stated and Heard claimed that she had suffered “excessive emotional, verbal and physical abuse” alongside “angry, hostile, humiliating and threatening assaults” at the hands of Depp. The restraining order was granted, and the marriage subsequently ended.

On November 2nd, the couple were back in the spotlight as another verdict was published online by Mr Justice Nicol at 10am. This case was a libel action that Depp had brought against a British newspaper, The Sun. Depp claimed that all allegations of abuse were an “elaborate hoax” and fought for his innocence to be proven. The case saw Heard’s story and pictures shared to the world and Depp’s team claimed that this was all part of a plot to falsely state that Depp was a “wife beater,” as claimed by The Sun in April 2018. The case had many people gripped worldwide with lawyers carefully watching to see how his win would impact women coming forward about their own experiences with abuse.

The case reviewed more than 14 occasions in which Heard had been assaulted by Depp and the entire process involved a very public examination of their private life. In the end, the judge ruled that the allegations made by The Sun were “substantially true” and that it was true to describe Depp as a “wife beater” after he found 12 of the 14 alleged incidents of abuse had occurred. The verdict caused different reactions with Depp’s team stating that the actor would be appealing the verdict as “the judgement is so flawed that it would be ridiculous for Mr Depp not to appeal the decision.”

A spokesperson for the sun thanked Heard for “her courage in giving evidence to the court” and stated that it had stood up for domestic abuse victims for many years.

There were ripples felt in the media world as they were allowed to continue on with their reporting of events, however they deemed appropriate. There were concerns that if Depp had won, that more libel cases would be brought against the media, but now Depp has lost, the media believes that they are safe because if a high-profiled, wealthy, Hollywood star cannot stop them, then nobody can.

Header image by Christos Alamaniotis – Assistant Head of Design

Edited by Sophie Alexander – Entertainment Editor


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