LONDON, UK — A British court on Thursday refused Johnny Depp permission to appeal a judge’s ruling that he assaulted ex-wife Amber Heard.
Two Court of Appeal judges said the Hollywood star cannot challenge the High Court’s rejection of his libel lawsuit against the publisher of The Sun newspaper for labeling him a “wife beater” in an article.
The justices, James Dingemans and Nicholas Underhill, said the earlier court hearing was “full and fair” and the trial judge's conclusions "have not been shown even arguably to be vitiated by any error of approach or mistake of law.”
They concluded that “the appeal has no real prospect of success and that there is no other compelling reason for it to be heard.”
High Court Justice Andrew Nicol ruled in November that allegations against Depp, made in an April 2018 article, were “substantially true.” The judge ruled that Depp, 57, assaulted Heard, 34, on a dozen occasions and put her in fear for her life three times.
Lawyers for Depp argued at a court hearing last week that Depp hadn't received a fair hearing and that Heard was an unreliable witness. As evidence of her unreliability, they claimed that Heard hadn't kept her promise to donate her $7 million divorce settlement to charity.
The appeals judges said it was “pure speculation, and in our view very unlikely” that the fate of the divorce money influenced judge Nicol's decision.
“It is clear from a reading of the judgment as a whole that the judge based his conclusions on each of the incidents on his extremely detailed review of the evidence specific to each incident,” they said.
"In an approach of that kind, there was little need or room for the judge to give weight to any general assessment of Ms. Heard’s credibility."
The High Court ruling came after a three-week trial in July, in which Depp and Heard gave conflicting accounts of their brief, tempestuous marriage. During the trial, Depp acknowledged wide-ranging drug problems, but accused Heard of making up abuse allegations and insisted he was “not a violent person, especially with women.”
His lawyers argued that the allegations in The Sun caused “serious harm” to the actor’s reputation and “significant distress and embarrassment.”
In the wake of the ruling, Depp said he was leaving the “Fantastic Beasts” film franchise after studio Warner Bros. requested his resignation.
Depp is also suing Heard for $50 million in Virginia over a Washington Post op-ed essay that she wrote about domestic violence. The trial, in that case, was recently delayed until April 2022.