Amber Heard appeals against ‘chilling’ verdict in Depp US defamation trial

Amber Heard has sought to appeal against the verdict in her multimillion-dollar US defamation lawsuit against Johnny Depp, arguing that it will have a “chilling” effect on other women.

Lawyers for the Aquaman star said the case “should never have gone to trial” and criticised the decision to allow it to go ahead in Fairfax, in Virginia.

Ms Heard was sued by Mr Depp over a 2018 article she wrote for the Washington Post about her experiences as a survivor of domestic abuse, which his lawyers said falsely accused him of being an abuser.

In June this year, a jury at Fairfax County Court returned a verdict in his favour and he was awarded 10.3 million dollars (£8.43 million) for damage to his reputation.

Johnny Depp court case
In June this year, a jury at Fairfax County Court returned a verdict in Mr Depp’s favour, following a six-week defamation trial (Yui Mok/PA)

In documents filed to the Virginia Court of Appeals and obtained by the PA news agency, Ms Heard’s lawyers said the trial court had “erred” several times.

“The trial court erroneously refused to dismiss this action on the ground of forum non conveniens, based on its mistaken conclusion that Depp’s claims arose in Virginia because the Washington Post’s servers are located here,” the documents stated.

“The trial court also erred in overruling Heard’s demurrer (objection), in which she argued that the challenged statements are non-actionable expressions of opinion and are not reasonably capable of conveying the alleged defamatory implication.

“That holding, if allowed to stand, undoubtedly will have a chilling effect on other women who wish to speak about abuse involving powerful men.”

The documents added: “This case also should never have gone to trial because another court had already concluded that Depp abused Heard on multiple occasions.”

The filing, made on November 23, comes less than a month after Mr Depp filed his own appeal against the court’s decision to also award damages to Ms Heard.

Ms Heard was awarded two million dollars (£1.8 million) in damages following her counterclaim, which alleged that she had been defamed by one of Mr Depp’s lawyers, Adam Waldman.

Lawyers on behalf of the Hollywood actor said the judgement in Ms Heard’s favour was “fatally flawed”, but that those in Mr Depp’s favour should still stand.

Johnny Depp court case
Ms Heard was awarded two million dollars (£1.8 million) in damages following her counterclaim in the US trial (Yui Mok/PA)

“This Court should reverse the judgment on Ms Heard’s Counterclaim as to the April 27 Waldman Statement, but should otherwise affirm the judgment in Mr Depp’s favor,” the filing concluded.

Since the trial’s conclusion, Mr Depp has begun a comeback in the entertainment industry.

In August, it was announced that he would be directing his first feature film in 25 years: Modi, about the Italian painter and sculptor Amedeo Modigliani.

He later made a series of strange, surprise appearances at the 2022 MTV VMAs as the channel’s famous mascot, the Moon Man.

In October, it was also announced that he will embark on a UK tour with his band the Hollywood Vampires next summer.