Former Pirates of the Caribbean and Fantastic Beasts franchise star Johnny Depp has been found to be in violation of a court order after failing to disclose text messages discussing his alleged drug use to defense attorneys for UK-based tabloid The Sun, a decision which could lead to the potential dismissal of the case.
Depp is suing The Sun, executive editor Dan Wooton, and The Sun’s publisher News Group Newspapers over a 2018 article they published claiming that Depp was violent and abusive to his ex-wife Amber Heard.
Depp has denied these allegations.
On June 29th, UK High Court Judge Andrew Nicol found that Depp had been in violation of a previous court order which required the actor to provide The Sun’s defense team with all documents related to his concurrent defamation lawsuit against ex-wife and Aquaman-star Amber Heard.
According to The Sun’s lawyers, Depp failed to provide the defense with text messages exchanged between himself and an assistant. The texts refer to “happy pills” and “whitey stuff” according to Sky News. They were sent between late February and early March 2015 before the vacation with Heard in Australia.
The Sun’s lawyers claim the texts are Depp asking for assistance in acquiring “MDMA and other narcotics,” during a 2015 vacation in Australia taken with Heard.
Heard claims to have been the victim of “a three-day ordeal of physical assaults” at the hands of Depp while he was intoxicated on MDMA and alcohol.
A legal representative for The Sun, Adam Wolanski, argued that the failure to disclose the texts could put The Sun’s right to a fair trial into jeopardy.
In his ruling, Judge Nicol noted that this failure constituted a breach of the order, stating that “the Australian drug texts were adverse to the claimant’s pleaded case and/or were supportive of the defendants’ pleaded case.”
Judge Nicol did not immediately dismiss the case, allowing Depp’s lawyers an opportunity to present a case in support of the trial moving forward.
Depp’s legal representative in the case, David Sherborne, believes it would be “wholly disproportionate” to dismiss the lawsuit, stating that “it is now the time for the defendants to have to prove what they published.”
He explained, “The central matter in dispute in these proceedings is whether or not the claimant committed multiple acts of serious unprovoked physical violence during his relationship with Amber Heard, causing her significant injuries and to be put in fear for her life.”
He added, “It is now time for the defendants to have to prove what they published.”
Sherborne also referenced James Franco and Elon Musk saying, “Given that her case is that she was controlled and abused by the claimant and that she could not possibly have left him, that does not sit at all with the fact that she was having multiple affairs.”
Barring a dismissal, the trial is scheduled to begin at the High Court in London on July 7. It was initially postponed from its original March start date due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic.