The actor Johnny Depp has denied slapping his ex-wife Amber Heard after she laughed at his “Wino Forever” tattoo, under questioning on the second day of libel action against The Sun newspaper.
The Hollywood actor rejected suggestions he slapped Heard three times during a time when he had “fallen off the wagon” after she made a joke of the etching on his arm – saying “that is not true, you are mistaken”.
The 57-year-old was probed about the alleged incident as he re-entered the witness box to give evidence in his claim.
Depp is suing the tabloid’s publisher, News Group Newspapers, over the 2018 article, which labelled him a “wife-beater” and referred to “overwhelming evidence” that he attacked Heard, 34, during their relationship – which he strenuously denies.
Depp was cross-examined about the alleged incident in March 2013, which Depp agreed was at a time when he had started drinking again following about 160 days of sobriety.
It involved a tattoo the actor had done during his relationship with actress Winona Ryder, which read “Winona Forever” and which he had changed to “Wino Forever” after they split.
It was put to Depp that he had slapped Heard three times after she laughed at the tattoo during a period where he was drinking heavily to which he replied: “I’m sorry but that is not true, you are mistaken.”
The actor’s case against NGN and Wootton arises out of the publication of an article on The Sun’s website on April 27 2018 with the headline “Gone Potty: How can JK Rowling be ‘genuinely happy’ casting wife-beater Johnny Depp in the new Fantastic Beasts film?”
NGN is defending the article as true and says Depp was “controlling and verbally and physically abusive towards Ms Heard, particularly when he was under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs” between early 2013 and May 2016, when the couple split.
In a written outline of the actor’s case, his barrister, David Sherborne, said the article made “defamatory allegations of the utmost seriousness” against Depp, accusing him of committing serious assaults on Heard and “inflicting such serious injuries that she feared for her life”.
Sherborne said: “The articles amount to a full-scale attack on the claimant as a ‘wife beater’, guilty of the most horrendous physical abuse. The claimant’s position is clear – Ms Heard’s allegations are complete lies. The claimant was not violent towards Ms Heard, it was she who was violent to him.”