Amber Heard was today accused of texting her sister Whitney Henriquez while she was giving evidence in another extraordinary twist in her ex-husband Johnny Depp’s libel trial in London.
The megastar actor’s legal team have demanded that Ms Heard is not allowed to use her mobile while the court in more high drama at the Royal Courts of Justice this morning.
Mr Depp’s QC David Sherborne also asked the judge to keep Whitney out of the court as they produced a new video which shows Amber being violent towards her. Whitney had testified yesterday that Amber had never attacked her.
The requests came before Ms Henriquez was due in the witness box this morning where she was due to finish her evidence in the biggest libel case of the 21st century.
Mr Sherborne said: ‘We ask that Amber Herd be refrained from using her phone [while seated in court]. communication may be happening to Miss Whitney Heard as we speak.’
Actress Amber Heard arrives at the High Court in London this morning for Johnny Depp’s libel case to continue. But proceedings were paused as Mr Depp’s legal team claims Amber was texting her sister Whitney (right) while she gave evidence
Amber Heard and her girlfriend Bianca Butti arrive at the Royal Courts of Justice in London today for the libel trial to continue
Johnny Depp waves as he arrives to attend his libel trial against News Group Newspapers at London’s High Court yesterday
It comes after the High Court also heard yesterday that the drug-addled Hollywood legend scrawled messages to his wife in blood on lampshades, cushions, walls and a mirror, using his badly wounded finger as a paintbrush.
Amber Heard returned to London‘s High Court for her sister to continue giving evidence today after the actress said Johnny Depp threatened to ‘slice up my face’ with a bottle before trashing their house with raw meat.
Whitney Henriquez will go back on the stand one day after passionately backing her sister Heard and saying Depp repeatedly attacked her – including once when she saw the actor grab her by the hair and hit her in the face.
Johnny Depp v The Sun: Key issues in libel trial
Hollywood star Johnny Depp’s libel claim against The Sun enters its second week on Monday. These are the key issues the trial judge, Mr Justice Nicol, has to determine.
– Whether the April 2018 article by the tabloid’s executive editor Dan Wootton was defamatory of Depp. Under the Defamation Act 2013, a statement is not defamatory unless its publication causes ‘serious harm to the reputation of the claimant’.
– The Sun’s publisher, News Group Newspapers (NGN), is defending the claim and relying on a defence of truth. It is for the publisher to prove that the allegations made in the article are ‘substantially true’.
– The meaning of the article, which is defined as what it would mean to the ‘reasonable reader’, will have to be determined by the judge. But NGN’s lawyers say the differences between the rival meanings contended by each side are ‘not significant’ and the outcome of the case will therefore not turn on meaning.
– Depp’s case is that the article bore the meaning that he was ‘guilty, on overwhelming evidence, of serious domestic violence against his then wife, causing significant injury and leading to her fearing for her life, for which he was constrained to pay no less than £5 million to compensate her, and which resulted in him being subjected to a continuing court restraining order; and for that reason is not fit to work in the film industry’. He strenuously denies the allegations and claims he ‘has never hit or committed any acts of physical violence against Ms Heard’.
– The meaning which NGN will seek to prove is true is that the Claimant beat his wife Amber Heard, causing her to suffer significant injury and on occasion leading her to fearing for her life. They rely on 14 separate allegations of violence and allege more generally that Depp was ‘controlling and verbally and physically abusive’ towards Ms Heard, particularly when he was under the influence of alcohol and or drugs, throughout their relationship. NGN’s lawyers say an important issue for the judge to decide will be what substances Depp was using during the relationship. They contend that he frequently lost control of himself, partly because of his heavy drug and alcohol use, and also that his memory has been impaired by his heavy use of drugs.
– If Depp wins his case, the judge will have to decide what level of compensation he should receive for the harm to his reputation and for the ‘distress, hurt and humiliation caused’. There is an upper limit on general damages for libel of £300,000 to £325,000. However, if he succeeds, Depp may also be entitled to aggravated damages. The actor is also asking for a final injunction against NGN, who his legal team say ‘have retained the article on their website and maintained their allegation to the bitter end’.
Ms Henriquez will finish her evidence this morning before Heard’s acting coach Kristina Sexton appears by video link from Australia and Heard’s friends iO Tillett Wright and Raquel ‘Rocky’ Pennington give evidence from the US.
Heard gave a horrific account of the carnage of her husband’s three-day ecstasy and whisky rampage at their rented house on the Gold Coast in Australia, where he was shooting a Pirates of the Caribbean film in March 2015.
She told Mr Justice Nicol: ‘He held me up against the fridge by my neck, screaming at me for ruining his life. He said over again I had ruined his f****** life, and that I did this, I did this to him, I made him mad. He held a bottle to my face and said he would slice up my face.’
She said Depp had washed down ten ecstasy tablets with whisky before he ripped off her clothes and grabbed her breasts, choked and slapped her and hurled her over a ping-pong table.
She said the self-confessed alcoholic pelted her with 30 bottles ‘like grenades’ after she complained about his drinking.
He held her by the neck while smashing a phone ‘repeatedly over and over into the wall, screaming at the top of his lungs’ until the phone ‘disappeared’ into shredded bits, she said.
It was this, she suggested, that cut off the tip of Depp’s finger – later discovered behind the bar – rather than his claim that it was a vodka bottle she hurled at him.
Heard says she barricaded herself in the bedroom and the next morning found a scene of total devastation.
She said: ‘There appeared to be mashed potatoes and gravy rubbed all over the door. There was a bird in the house that scared me to death – I guess it had flown in through a broken window.
‘Then I started seeing all this blood on the carpet. There was blood everywhere, there was paint on the walls, then it started to become clear… they were messages.
‘I could make out words but it didn’t make sense. There was paint, blood, on the walls, messages to me. He wrote on lampshades, he had burned holes through cushions… there was blood and paint messages on cushions, there was a couch flipped over.’
Heard said that on the ground floor death metal music was blaring out and there were ‘more messages in paint and blood’.
She added: ‘I found raw meat. I continued to find it for the next day hidden in various places. He had taken my nightgown and ripped it into shreds and wrapped pieces of food… he had taken things from the fridge, smeared mashed potato and blood.’
There was ‘tons of broken glass – so much glass on the floor I could barely find a pathway to walk’. Among the £130,000 of damage Depp had allegedly scrawled a penis on to a painting of a topless woman.
When giving evidence, Depp insisted he had been trying to escape his wife’s rages and called his security to rescue him as she berated him. He says his injured finger became infected with MRSA.
Depp is suing The Sun newspaper for libel for calling him a ‘wife beater’.
His lawyers have suggested Heard changed her story about a separate incident after a photo showed her with a clear face alongside her husband, Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards and her sister in Los Angeles.
At first she said Depp beat her up on March 8, 2013, but later she said it was in fact on March 23, the day after the snap was taken.
Yesterday, as more photos emerged of the sisters and Richards taken on March 21, Ms Henriquez told the court she too had made ‘a mistake’ over the dates.
Johnny Depp and Amber Heard attend the red carpet event for ‘Black Mass’ at the Venice Film Festival on September 4, 2015
Heard denied faking images of bruises and clumps of ripped-out hair after witnesses said they had seen no injuries on her. ‘I never leave the house without make-up. I live in LA,’ she explained.
Depp is suing over the publication of an article 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?’
His lawyers say the article bore the meaning there was ‘overwhelming evidence’ Depp assaulted Heard on a number of occasions and left her ‘in fear for her life’.
Sun publisher News Group Newspapers is defending the article as true, saying Depp was ‘controlling and verbally and physically abusive towards Heard, particularly when he was under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs’.
The blockbuster case, the biggest English libel trial of the 21st century, is due to finish next week with closing submissions from both sides’ legal teams on Monday and Tuesday. The trial continues.