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Amber Heard lied about donating $7m divorce money to charity, Johnny Depp’s lawyers say

Written by on 18/03/2021

Amber Heard told a “calculated and manipulative lie” when she claimed she donated her $7m (£5.5m) divorce settlement to charity, Johnny Depp’s lawyers have told the Court of Appeal.

Depp, 57, is trying to overturn a damning High Court libel case ruling that he assaulted his ex-wife and put her in fear for her life, made last year following a high-profile trial.

During a hearing on Thursday, Depp’s lawyers asked for permission to appeal the judgment, which found in favour of The Sun that an April 2018 column in the newspaper calling the actor a “wife beater” was “substantially true”.

Actor Johnny Depp arrives at the High Court in London, Britain July 16, 2020. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
Image: Depp is applying for permission to appeal the judge’s ruling

The Hollywood star claims he “did not receive a fair trial” and his barrister Andrew Caldecott QC has given details of “fresh evidence” that Heard did not donate her divorce settlement to charity.

After the couple’s break-up in 2016, the 34-year-old actress – who was a witness for The Sun’s publishers NGN Newspapers during the trial – said she would split the $7m between the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

But, Mr Caldecott said the hospital wrote to Depp’s business adviser in 2019 to say Heard had not made “any payments”.

The court heard she gave just $100,000 (£72,000) to the hospital and $450,000 (£322,000) to the ACLU, although she claims she made a further $500,000 (£358,000) donation to the second charity anonymously.

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In written submissions, Depp’s legal team said this was a “calculated and manipulative lie, designed to achieve a potent favourable impression from the outset”.

In court on Thursday, Mr Caldecott said Heard’s claim that she had donated the full settlement to charity sent out a “subliminal message” that she wanted Depp to pay but didn’t “want to keep a dime of his money”, which implied “revulsion at the way he treated her physically”.

Actor Amber Heard delivers a statement as she leaves the High Court
Image: Actor Amber Heard delivers a statement as she leaves the High Court

The claim “tipped the scales against Mr Depp from the very beginning”, he told the court.

In his ruling in November, Mr Justice Nicol said of Heard: “Her donation of the $7m to charity is hardly the act one would expect of a gold-digger.”

Mr Caldecott said that the if “the truth” about the charity claim had been known during the trial, it would have affected the judge’s consideration of the actress’s evidence.

Adam Wolanski, representing NGN, said in written submissions that Depp’s “fresh evidence” was said to support “a theory that Ms Heard was a ‘gold-digger'”.

However, he argued that “the evidence is not ‘fresh’ at all, since it could have been obtained with reasonable diligence for (the) trial”.

Supporters of Johnny Depp, one dressed as Edward Scissorhands played by Depp in the Tim Burton 1990 film of the same name, wait outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London, ahead of a ruling on Depp's application to the Court of Appeal. Mr Depp is asking for permission to appeal against a damning High Court ruling which found that he assaulted his ex-wife Amber Heard and put her in fear for her life. Picture date: Thursday March 18, 2021.
Image: Supporters of Johnny Depp, one dressed as his character Edward Scissorhands, ahead of Thursday’s hearing

Depp took legal action against NGN in June 2018 over the column in The Sun, by the newspaper’s then executive editor Dan Wootton, which referred to “overwhelming evidence” he attacked Heard.

In his judgment, Mr Justice Nicol concluded that 12 of the 14 alleged incidents of domestic violence relied on by NGN in its defence of the actor’s claim did occur.

But Depp’s legal team claims the judge “failed to examine the competing accounts of each incident, or to explain whether he found them proved and, if so, on what basis”.

 Sky News

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