JOHNNY DEPP breached a High Court order in his libel claim against The Sun newspaper by failing to disclose texts that apparently show him trying to obtain drugs, a judge has ruled.
The actor, 57, was found by Mr Justice Nicol to have breached an order requiring him to disclose the documents from a separate libel claim in the US against his actress ex-wife Amber Heard.
But the judge has deferred a decision on whether to throw out the case.
Depp is suing The Sun’s publisher, News Group Newspapers (NGN) and its executive editor Dan Wootton over an article in April 2018 that referred to him as a ‘wife beater’, an allegation he strongly denies.
Last Thursday, NGN’s legal team asked trial judge Mr Justice Nicol to strike out the actor’s claim.
Adam Wolanski QC argued Depp was in ‘serious’ breach of a court order because he had not given NGN what he called the ‘Australia drugs texts’ between the Hollywood star and his assistant, Nathan Holmes.
Mr Wolanski said the messages, sent between February and March 2015 shortly before Heard, 34, claims she was subjected to ‘a three-day ordeal of physical assaults’ in Australia, show Depp was trying to get drugs during the visit. He told the court references to ‘happy pills’ and ‘whitey stuff’ showed Depp was trying to obtain MDMA and cocaine, which he argued was ‘profoundly damaging to his case’.
Depp’s barrister, David Sherborne, said the messages were not relevant as they did not relate to the allegations of domestic violence, and added his client had been frank about his drug-taking history. He said: ‘The issue in this case is whether the defendants can prove that the claimant committed serious domestic violence and put Ms Heard in fear. It is not about whether Mr Depp asks for drugs.’
However, the judge yesterday ruled Depp had breached the order and said: ‘The Australian drug texts were adverse to the claimant’s pleaded case and/or were supportive of the defendants’ pleaded case.’
A three-week trial is slated to begin on July 7, with Depp’s ex-partners Vanessa Paradis and Winona Ryder among the witnesses who are expected to give evidence.
The case was due to start in March but was delayed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In May 2016, Heard got a restraining order against Depp after accusing him of abuse, which he denied.
The couple, who starred together in The Rum Diary, settled their divorce out of court in 2017.
Heard donated her £5.5million part of the settlement to charity.