Johnny Depp accused Amber Heard of ‘haymakering’ him when they met in a hotel shortly after his ex-wife had obtained a restraining order against him, according to a secret recording revealed in court today.
Depp, 57, continued to give evidence at the High Court in London today as his blockbuster libel case continues over allegations of domestic violence by Heard, 34. He is suing The Sun publisher News Group Newspapers and its executive editor Dan Wootton over an article in April 2018 which labelled him a ‘wife beater’.
The actor is said to have attacked Heard throughout their tempestuous relationship, which has been described as ‘a crime scene waiting to happen’, and put her in fear for her life – claims he says are ‘a choreographed hoax’.
He also spoke about an argument after Heard’s 30th birthday party, which he attended after a ‘bad meeting’ with his new business manager which revealed he had lost $650million after it was ‘stolen’ by his previous managers.
Depp also admitted today that his forehead ‘may have clashed’ with Heard’s when he was trying to ‘grab her arms’ to stop her hitting him – but denied intending to headbutt her. He also said he could not have grabbed Heard by the head and punched her in the face because he was wearing a cast with a ‘little dinosaur’ on his broken finger.
The former couple were both photographed arriving separately at the court in London this morning, while Heard was also pictured leaving Ham Yard Hotel in Soho, where she is staying while legal proceedings continue.
Meanwhile Depp’s former fiancée Winona Ryder, who starred with him in the 1991 film Edward Scissorhands, is set to tell the court via videolink later this week that he was never abusive or violent to her.
Johnny Depp (left) and Amber Heard (right) are pictured this morning outside the High Court in London as the Hollywood actor’s blockbuster libel case over allegations of domestic violence continues
Amber Heard is pictured leaving Ham Yard Hotel in London’s Soho today where she is staying as legal proceedings continue
Pirates of the Caribbean star Depp began his fifth day of evidence in the case by being asked about an alleged incident of domestic violence against Heard shortly after he lost the top of his middle finger in Australia.
His barrister David Sherborne asked Depp about an alleged incident in Los Angeles on March 23, 2015, when he is said to have grabbed Heard by the hair with one hand and hit her ‘repeatedly in the head with the other’.
Depp said: ‘I flew back from Australia to LA to have surgery on the finger and, at that time, they had put a pin in it, in the broken bone, the fractured bone, but to no avail.’ He said he ‘ended up getting MRSA, it’s quite a painful disease’.
Depp explained he was wearing a cast on his hand with a ‘little dinosaur’ on it because he had decided if he was going to have to wear one he should have the children’s ‘wraparound’ on it as it was ‘more fun’.
The actor confirmed he was wearing the cast at the time of the alleged incident in the Eastern Columbia building. Mr Sherborne asked: ‘And with that cast on, would you have been able to grab her hair with one hand and punch her repeatedly with the other?’ Depp replied: ‘No sir.’
Mr Sherborne then asked Depp about an alleged incident during the couple’s honeymoon in July 2015 on a train in South East Asia. Depp confirmed that he and Heard were accompanied by security guard Malcolm Connolly for the entire trip, and said they ‘became quite friendly’ with the railway staff.
He said the staff accommodated them by putting them in a separate dining car to avoid people taking photos of them during meals, and that Mr Connolly was always present in that car. Mr Sherborne asked: ‘Were you violent at all to Ms Heard during that train journey?’. To which the actor replied: ‘No, not at all.’
Mr Sherborne continued by asking about an alleged incident at the couple’s LA penthouse on December 15, 2015, which the court heard was ‘the night before Ms Heard was due to be filming for an appearance on the James Corden show, The Late Late Show’.
The barrister said Depp is alleged to have inflicted ‘a litany of violence’ on Heard on that occasion, before the actor is said to have headbutted his ex-wife.
Mr Sherborne said Depp’s evidence was that ‘your foreheads may have clashed’ when the actor was trying to ‘grab her arms’ to prevent her hitting him. Depp explained that he grabbed Heard to ‘lock her arms’ to stop her attacking him.
Mr Sherborne asked: ‘Were you violent to Ms Heard in any way?’ Mr Depp replied: ‘No, sir.’ Mr Sherborne asked: ‘Did you intend to headbutt her?’ The actor said: ‘Not at all.’
Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder in Los Angeles in September 1990. Ryder is due to give evidence via videolink on Wednesday
Photographs show bruising across the bridge of Heard’s nose and under her eyes after Depp allegedly headbutted her in 2015
Photos after the incident in December 2015 show bruising to Heard’s face after Depp allegedly headbutted her
Mr Sherborne asked: ‘Did you deliberately strike her nose causing it to be ‘bashed up’, I think is her (Ms Heard’s) phrase?’ Mr Depp replied: ‘No, sir.’
Mr Sherborne then referred to a recording of a conversation between Depp and Heard, made without the actor’s knowledge, when they met in a San Francisco hotel room in July 2016, shortly after Heard had obtained a restraining order.
The recording refers to the ‘headbutt’ incident in December 2015, in which Mr Depp can be heard to say: ‘I headbutted you in the f******… forehead. That doesn’t break a nose.’
The barrister asked if ‘Ms Heard asked for’ the meeting, to which Mr Depp said: ‘That’s correct.’ Mr Sherborne then asked: ‘Do you remember in the restraining order how far it said you need to keep away from Ms Heard?’
Mr Depp replied: ‘I believe it was something like 150 feet.’
Mr Sherborne referred to the suggestion by Sasha Wass QC, representing News Group Newspapers (NGN), that Depp had ‘invented’ his version of events that he had accidentally headbutted his ex-wife. The barrister asked if ‘you have invented this (account) since December 2019’? Mr Depp replied: ‘Certainly not, no.’
Mr Sherborne referred to notes of nurse Erin Boerum who had discussed the alleged incident with Heard in the aftermath.
The barrister said Ms Boerum was a friend of Heard, who attended her birthday party and had seen the actress on December 17 while delivering medication.
The nurse said Heard was ‘dishevelled’ and had ‘visible bright red blood’ on her lip, which she told Ms Boerum was from the injury sustained in the argument.
Ms Boerum also examined Heard’s face and scalp and said she was unable to see bruises or clumps of hair missing.
Mr Sherborne then asked Depp to explain part of his evidence about Heard suffering chapped lips.
The actor replied: ‘It was normal that she had pretty dry lips, she she was constantly using lip balm and… she would pick the dryness, the dry skin.
Mr Sherborne said: ‘And what would happen when she did that?’ To which Depp replied: ‘Well just like anything, it would bleed if you are pulling the scab off.’
Depp was then asked in court about a text message he received from Heard’s father, David Heard, in the aftermath of the alleged incident, in which he said he knew his daughter needed help with her temper, as the actor did for his problems with drink and drugs.
In the text, Mr Heard also wrote: ‘But I still love you like a father or brother.’
David Sherborne asked: ‘If Lily-Rose… if your daughter told you that her husband had slapped her repeatedly, punched her, deliberately smacked her in the nose, grabbed her by the hair, dragged her upstairs by the hair, pulled chunks of her hair out, would you still send a text to him saying ‘I love you like a brother or father’?’
Depp replied: ‘Definitely not.’
Mr Sherborne then asked about an argument after Heard’s 30th birthday party at the couple’s LA penthouse on April 21 2016, which the actor attended after a ‘bad meeting’ with his new business manager.
Depp said: ‘I was in the early stage of learning from my recently acquired new business manager that the former business managers had (taken) quite a lot of my money. They had stolen my money.’
Mr Sherborne asked: ‘How much money had they taken from you?’
The actor replied: ‘It was put to me this way, because I had no idea about money or amounts of money.
‘Since Pirates (Of The Caribbean) 2 and 3, I had – and this is ludicrous to have to state, it’s quite embarrassing – apparently I had made $650million (£510 million) and when I sacked them, for the right reasons, I had not only lost $650million, but I was $100million in the hole because they (the previous business managers) had not paid the government my taxes for 17 years.’
Mr Sherborne said: ‘So, as you said, a bad meeting.’ Depp replied: ‘Very unpleasant and ugly, yes.’
Depp was asked if he had smoked any cannabis between leaving the meeting with his new business manager and attending Heard’s birthday party.
The actor said: ‘It is possible that from the meeting, which was in my office in the conference room, that on my way down to Ms Heard’s dinner, it is possible that I would have smoked some cannabis in the car on the way.’
Mr Sherborne asked: ‘If you had smoked some cannabis, what effect would it have had on you?’ The barrister asked if smoking cannabis would have put him ‘in a rage’. Depp replied: ‘No, it’s a calming agent for me.’
Mr Sherborne then referred to notes taken by nurse Erin Boerum, who attended Heard’s party on April 21, 2016.
Her notes read that Heard ‘appeared irritable and upset, she reports being angry with her husband because he’s late’.
The notes continued that ‘JD arrives at 10.15pm… appears in good spirits’, that the actor was ‘coherent… and sociable’ and that the couple ‘appeared affectionate to one another’ during the dinner.
Mr Sherborne asked: ‘Does that accord with your recollection?’ Depp said: ‘Yes, sir.’
Mr Sherborne then referred again to the ‘secret recording’ of Depp and Heard’s meeting in San Francisco in July 2016, in which Depp can be heard to say ‘you f****** haymakered me, man’.
The actor also says to Heard that ‘you came around the bed to f****** start punching on me’, the court heard.
The barrister asked what a ‘haymaker’ was, to which Depp replied: ‘It’s just a type of wild swinging… kind of a roundhouse punch, as it were. It’s a bit of a wild swing, but effective if it reaches the target.’
Meanwhile Depp’s former fiancée Winona Ryder, who starred with him in the 1991 film Edward Scissorhands, is set to tell the court later this week that he was never abusive or violent to her.
Ryder, who is due to give evidence via videolink on Wednesday, wrote in a statement: ‘We were together as a couple for four years. I counted him as my best friend, and as close to me as family.
‘I obviously was not there during his marriage to Amber, but, from my experience, which was so wildly different, I was absolutely shocked, confused and upset when I heard the accusations against him.
Depp is alleged to have trashed a penthouse in Los Angeles, California, which Heard used as a colossal closet
Depp admitted to leaving graffiti on a bathroom mirror after the fight with Heard, which resulted in his finger being severed
‘The idea that he is an incredibly violent person is the farthest thing from the Johnny I knew and loved. I cannot wrap my head around these accusations.’
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 Mr 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.
– Mr 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 Mr 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 Mr 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 Mr 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, Mr 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’.
Stranger Things actress Ryder was in a relationship with Depp during the early 1990s, and he famously tattooed ‘Winona Forever’ on his arm – before changing it to ‘Wino Forever’ following their split.
Depp has been questioned since Tuesday over 14 alleged domestic violence incidents, and his Hollywood lifestyle, past relationships with Ryder, Vanessa Paradis and Kate Moss, and his well-documented use of drink and drugs.
The court has heard disputed accounts of a three-day trip to Australia, when Depp lost the top of his middle finger, and the so-called ‘defecation incident’ in which faeces were found in the couple’s bed after Heard’s 30th birthday.
Depp is due to finish giving evidence today after around 20 hours in the witness box at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.
NGN’s lawyers have said Depp first hit his ex-wife in early 2013 during a heated argument over a painting – which he allegedly tried to set alight – by Heard’s ex Tasya van Ree and attacked her on a number of other occasions before the couple split in May 2016.
The publisher claims Depp is a ‘Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ character who snapped when he was drunk and on drugs and turned into ‘the Monster’ – an ‘alter ego’ he assumed when he would ‘lose control and become a violent thug’.
The Pirates Of The Caribbean star has admitted giving misleading evidence about his drink and drug use before a flight from Boston to LA in May 2014 and ‘accidentally’ headbutting Heard during a row at their home in December 2015, but says his ex-wife’s allegations are ‘complete lies’ and that she was ‘the abuser’ in the relationship.
He accuses Heard of severing the top of his middle finger with a vodka bottle in Australia in March 2015 and of ‘building a dossier very early on’ in their relationship to align herself with the #MeToo movement.
The court also heard evidence last week on Friday afternoon from LAPD officer Melissa Saenz who attended the couple’s penthouse after the actor allegedly hit Heard in the face with her own mobile phone in May 2016, who said she ‘did not see any injuries’ or damage to the apartment.
Paradis, 47, and Ryder, 48, were originally due to give evidence this week, as was alleged Harvey Weinstein victim Katherine Kendall, 50, who accuses Mr Wootton of ‘deliberately misusing’ her quotes and ‘using the #MeToo movement’ to damage Depp.
Heard’s evidence was expected to begin on Friday morning – but it is not clear when the Aquaman actress will give evidence as Depp’s cross-examination has taken almost two days longer than scheduled.
The three-week trial, which is due to finish on July 27, will also hear evidence from current and former employees of Depp and Heard, as well as her sister and friends by video-link from LA.
The actor is suing NGN and Mr Wootton 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?’
NGN is defending the article as true, and says Depp was ‘controlling and verbally and physically abusive towards Heard, particularly when he was under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs’.