AceShowbiz - Lawyers for The Sun asked a U.K. High Court judge to dismiss Johnny Depp's libel claim against the British newspaper over an alleged failure to disclose text messages at a hearing on Thursday, June 25, 2020.
The "Pirates of the Caribbean" star is suing the tabloid's publisher, News Group Newspapers (NGN), and its executive editor, Dan Wootton, over a 2018 article which referred to him as a "wife-beater" in relation to domestic violence allegations made by his ex-wife Amber Heard, which Depp has repeatedly denied.
According to the Press Association, at Thursday's preliminary hearing ahead of a three-week trial beginning in the High Court in London on July 7, 2020, NGN's lawyer, Adam Wolanski, told the court that his client had obtained a series of text messages sent between Depp and his assistant Nathan Holmes from Heard's American lawyers, which contained information suggesting the defendants' right to a fair trial might be compromised.
The publisher's legal team allege Depp deliberately withheld text messages that apparently show him trying to obtain "MDMA and other narcotics" while in Australia in 2015, violating a previous court order requiring the actor provide all documents from a separate libel case against Heard in the U.S.
Wolanski told the court, "There is a real risk that the claimant has failed to provide proper disclosure to the defendants, and that the defendants cannot have a fair trial."
Contesting the move, Depp's lawyer, David Sherborne, 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."
In his witness statement for the trial, Depp states that he has been "open about my challenges with alcoholism and addiction throughout my life," with Sherbourne saying NGN's lawyers had "lost focus" of what Depp has already admitted in the case.
Following a previous hearing in May, the judge, Mr. Justice Nicol, allowed statements from Depp's exes Vanessa Paradis and Winona Ryder, who both say he was "never" violent to them, to be included as evidence. However, evidence provided by Heard's former personal assistant, Kate James, was ruled out of the star's case.
Depp intends to travel from his home in France to London to give evidence when the trial begins next month, should it go ahead, while Heard, who received $7 million when they settled their divorce in 2017, is already believed to be in the U.K.