Johnny Depp has lost a bid to overturn the UK High Court verdict that ruled against him in his libel case with The Sun publisher News Group Newspapers. Following a hearing last week, during which the Pirates of the Caribbean actor asked the Court of Appeal to grant permission for him to challenge the ruling, which found the tabloid was fair in calling him a "wife-beater" in regard to his relationship with ex-wife, Amber Heard, Court of Appeal judges on Thursday denied Depp's application to contest the ruling with the goal of a retrial.
In a 14-page document explaining their decision, Appeals Judges Lord Justice Dingemans and Lord Justice Underhill said the initial hearing before Judge Andrew Niccol "was full and fair" and the trial judge "gave thorough reasons for his conclusions which have not been shown even arguably to be vitiated by any error of approach or mistake of law," according to Deadline. Part of Depp's argument for the appeal relied on Heard's claim that she gave $7 million from her divorce settlement in charitable donations, something Depp's team claimed she did not fulfill. During last week's hearing, Depp's barrister Andrew Caldecott QC said Heard's claim she would make the charitable donation was a "calculated and manipulative lie" and "tipped the scales against Mr. Depp from the very beginning." Dingemans and Underhill, however, said they do not believe the trial judge "may have been influenced by any such general perception." Underhill concluded his ruling by stating the Court of Appeal "refuse" Depp's application "to admit further evidence" and they "conclude that the appeal has no real prospect of success and that there is no other compelling reason for it to be heard."
In a statement responding to the verdict, Joelle Rich of Schillings Partners, Depp's lawyer, told Deadline said she "seriously questioned" the UK court's decision. Rich added that Depp was looking forward to "presenting the complete, irrefutable evidence of the truth in the U.S. libel case against Ms. Heard where she will have to provide full disclosure." A spokesperson for Heard, meanwhile, said they were "pleased but by no means surprised" by the decision and said Depp's "claim of new and important evidence was nothing more than a press strategy."
"The evidence presented in the UK case was overwhelming and undeniable," the statement added. "To reiterate, the original verdict was that Mr. Depp committed domestic violence against Amber on no fewer than 12 occasions and she was left in fear of her life. The verdict and lengthy, well-reasoned judgment, including the confidential judgment, has been affirmed."
According to The Guardian, a spokesperson for The Sun said the tabloid "had every confidence that this leave to appeal application would not be granted." It added that they "are pleased with today's decision" and said the case "had a full, fair and proper hearing, and today's decision vindicates the courageous evidence that Amber Heard gave to the court about domestic abuse."