Depp to hear if he can appeal UK ‘wife-beater’ ruling

London, March 25 (AFP/APP): Hollywood superstar Johnny Depp will on Thursday find out if he can appeal against a British court ruling that upheld claims he beat his ex-wife Amber Heard.

The 57-year-old “Pirates of the Caribbean” actor brought a libel claim against The Sun tabloid for a 2018 article that branded him a “wife-beater”. But a judge ruled against him and he was ordered to pay the newspaper’s publishers News Group Newspapers (NGN) Ł628,000 ($873,000, 733,000 euros) in legal costs.

The judge in the case initially blocked an immediate appeal, saying he did not think it had a “reasonable prospect of success” but allowed a direct application to the Court of Appeal. A hearing was held last week and a written ruling on whether to grant the application will be handed down at 1000 GMT. In the application, Depp’s lawyers cast doubt on testimony given by his Amber Heard at the original libel trial.

They argued in submissions she had given the whole of her divorce settlement to charity had prejudiced the case against Depp, while only a fraction had been paid. But a lawyer for NGN dismissed the issue, saying Heard, 34, said she had “donated the money, not that she had paid it” and that the two charities had understood the fee would be paid in instalments.

Depp himself did not appear at the appeal application. The November ruling has already damaged Depp’s career, with the actor saying afterwards he was asked to step down from his role in the “Fantastic Beasts” film franchise based on the book by Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling.

The case, which laid bare the actor’s battle with drink and drugs, was dubbed “the biggest English libel trial of the 21st century”. 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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