UK appeals court to consider Depp libel case

The actor will have his appeal against a libel ruling heard in court in London

Johnny Depp was asked to step down from his role in the 'Fantastic Beasts' film franchise after the ruling in November. AP
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Hollywood actor Johnny Depp will have an appeal to overturn a British court libel ruling that he assaulted his former wife Amber Heard considered in March.

The Court of Appeal in London will hear the application brought by the actor to review the libel case against a UK newspaper group.

In an order issued on Monday, judge Nicholas Underhill said the appeal and an attempt to introduce new evidence not heard at the trial last July would be considered at the hearing between March 15 and 31.

Depp, 57, lost his High Court libel claim in November against the publishers of The Sun over a 2018 article that called him a "wife beater".

He was ordered to pay News Group Newspapers £628,000 ($857,770) in legal costs from the trial, which laid bare the actor's chaotic lifestyle and battles with alcohol and drug addiction.

Judge Andrew Nicol, who heard the case, refused him grounds to appeal but said he could apply directly to the Court of Appeal to overturn his judgment.

In documents filed with the Court of Appeal, Depp's lawyer David Sherborne claimed Mr Nicol's judgment was "plainly wrong".

He argued the judge "failed to examine the competing accounts" of each incident of alleged violence by Depp towards Heard, or "explain whether he found them proved and, if so, on what basis".

However, Adam Wolanski, the lawyer representing the newspaper group, said Mr Nicol conducted "a painstaking analysis of the evidence".

"There is no basis to conclude that the judge failed to examine the evidence or provide reasons for his findings," Mr Wolanski said.

After the November ruling, Depp said he was asked to step down from his role in the Fantastic Beasts film franchise based on the book by J K Rowling.

He is also suing Heard in the US over a 2018 Washington Post article in which she claimed to be a victim of domestic violence.