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20th Dec 2022

Amber Heard and Johnny Depp have finally settled the terms of their defamation lawsuit

Steve Hopkins

‘I have made no admission. This is not an act of concession’

Amber Heard has agreed to pay her ex-husband Johnny Depp $1 million ( £823K), to bring their lengthy courtroom battle to an end – just weeks after she asked a court to reverse the “chilling” findings.

The settlement will reportedly be paid by Heard’s insurance company who she took legal action against last month when they refused to cover her debt.

The settlement finally brings to a close one of the most high profile celebrity cases in Hollywood history.

The matter was heard for six weeks in Fairfax, Virginia, before concluding, in part, in June. Multiple appeals have been launched since then. And before the defamation verdict was reached, in November 2020, Depp lost a libel case against the Sun over an article that called him a “wife beater”.

While no formal paperwork appears to have been filed in the Virginia court dockets, it appears that the agreement between Depp and Heard ends both parties’ appeals claims, Deadline reported. However, it appears that the judgment delivered against the actress by a Virginia jury on June 1 still stands and could be enforced if she publicly repeated the same statements of alleged defamation against Depp that her ex-husband initially sued over in March 2019, the publication suggested.

In a statement on social media, Heard stressed the settlement is not an admission of guilt, but rather a last-resort effort to move on.

“After a great deal of deliberation I have made a very difficult decision to settle the defamation case brought against me by my ex-husband in Virginia,” the 36-year-old said.

“It’s important for me to say that I never chose this. I defended my truth and in doing so my life as I knew it was destroyed. The vilification I have faced on social media is an amplified version of the ways in which women are re-victimised when they come forward.

“Now I finally have an opportunity to emancipate myself from something I attempted to leave over six years ago and on terms I can agree to.”

She added: “I have made no admission [of guilt]. This is not an act of concession.”

Heard added that the settlement placed no restrictions or gags on what she could say “moving forward”.

The Aquaman actresses also said she had “lost faith in the American legal system”, but explained how she cannot afford to risk the financial, psychological, physical, and emotional toll future courtroom proceedings may have on her.

“Women shouldn’t have to face abuse or bankruptcy for speaking her truth, but unfortunately it is not uncommon,” she said.

“I will not be threatened, disheartened or dissuaded by what happened from speaking the truth. No one can and no one will take that from me. My voice forever remains the most valuable asset I have.”

Depp’s lawyers Benjamin Chew and Camille Vasquez said their client’s “priority was about bringing the truth to light”.

A statement from his legal team reads: “We are pleased to formally close the door on this painful chapter for Mr. Depp, who made clear throughout this process that his priority was about bringing the truth to light. The jury’s unanimous decision and the resulting judgement in Mr. Depp’s favor against Ms. Heard remain fully in place. The payment of $1M – which Mr. Depp is pledging and will (actually) donate to charities – reinforces Ms. Heard’s acknowledgement of the conclusion of the legal system’s rigorous pursuit for justice.”

Depp sued Amber Heard over an op-ed that appeared in The Washington Post in 2018 which did not name him, but which he believed suggested he had abused her.

The article was entitled: “I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change.”

The jury unanimously found in favour of Depp, and Heard was ordered to pay Depp $10 million (£7.9m) in compensatory damages and $5 million (£3.9m) in punitive damages, later reduced to $350,000.

Heard was awarded $2 million (£1.5m).

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