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18th Aug 2021

Johnny Depp wins right to sue Amber Heard in $50 Million defamation suit

Charlie Herbert

Johnny Depp wins right to sue Amber Heard

Heard wanted the lawsuit from Johnny Depp to be dismissed.

A judge has overruled Amber Heard’s plea to dismiss Johnny Depp’s lawsuit, allowing the actor to move to the next step of suing Heard for defamation.

Depp is suing his ex-wife over a 2018 Washington Post piece in which she wrote about surviving domestic violence.

In the piece, Heard does not actually name her ex as someone who abused her, but in the past has accused the Pirates of the Caribbean star of domestic violence. He has always denied these claims.

In November last year, Depp sued The Sun for libel after the paper called him a “wife-beater,” in an acrimonious court battle. The actor lost the case, after the court found the claims to be “substantially true.”

Heard had argued that Depp’s lawsuit against her, which he filed in March 2019, should now be dismissed because the UK judgement should hold sway on the proceedings in the US as both centre on allegations of the actor as an abuser.

In court documents seen by PEOPLE, a Virginia judge overruled this argument, granting Depp the right to pursue his lawsuit against Heard.

Fairfax County Chief Judge Penney Azcarate rejected the actress’s submissions, saying that while Heard’s piece and the Sun’s article are similar in that they related to claims of abuse, the statements made in each were “inherently different.”

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In her ruling, Judge Azcarate wrote: “[Heard] argues she was in privity with The Sun because they both had the same interest in the case.

“However, for privity to exist, [Heard’s] interest in the case must be so identical with The Sun‘s interest such that The Sun‘s representation of its interest is also a representation of [Heard’s] legal right.

The Sun‘s interests were based on whether the statements the newspaper published were false. [Heard’s] interests relate to whether the statements she published were false.”

The judge added that Heard hadn’t been named in Depp’s lawsuit against The Sun as her Washington Post piece was published after he sued the tabloid.

In her piece, Heard had written: “I became a public figure representing domestic abuse, and I felt the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out.”

Three months later Depp filed a defamation lawsuit against his ex-wife for $50 million. In the lawsuit, his lawyers said: “Mr. Depp never abused Ms. Heard. Her allegations against him were false when they were made in 2016. They were part of an elaborate hoax to generate positive publicity for Ms. Heard and advance her career.”

Depp and Heard got married in February 2015, but just 15 months later Heard filed for divorce and got a temporary restraining order against Depp. The divorce was finalised in January 2017.