Actor Johnny Depp breached court order for failing to show drug texts in libel suit against tabloid

LONDON – A UK judge ruled on Monday (June 30) that Johnny Depp has breached a court order for failing to disclose texts that allegedly show him attempting to procure drugs, reports USA Today.

Judge Andrew Nicol’s ruling is part of the 57-year-old’s libel action against British tabloid newspaper, The Sun.

In 2016, Depp’s ex-wife, actress Amber Heard, obtained a restraining order against Depp after allegations of abuse, which the actor denied. The couple’s divorce was finalised in 2017.

Following Heard’s allegations, The Sun published an article in 2018, calling Depp a “wife-beater”.

Depp sued Heard and the newspaper in 2019 and 2020 respectively for defamation.

His libel suit was filed against The Sun’s parent company, News Group Newspapers, as well as the newspaper’s executive editor, Dan Wootton.

The hearing was originally scheduled for March, but was postponed to Jul 7 due to the coronavirus.

The Sun’s lawyer, Adam Wolanski, argued that the case should be dismissed as Depp failed to disclose “Australian drug texts”.

Between late February and early March 2015, shortly before “a three-day ordeal of physical assaults”, according to Heard, the actor was allegedly taking MDMA (ecstasy) and drinking heavily.

The Sun’s team claims that a series of texts between Depp and his assistant, Nathan Holmes, prove that Depp was trying to procure drugs at the time. It also argues that withholding the texts endangers the defendant’s ability to get a fair trial, and is a breach of a previous court order requiring the actor to provide all documents from separate libel proceedings against Heard in the United States.

Depp’s attorney argued that the texts did not relate to the allegations of violence, and therefore, were not relevant to the case.

On Monday, the judge ruled that Depp had breached the disclosure order. However, he did not immediately throw out the case.

Depp and Heard are both expected to give evidence in person at the London trial. The actor’s former partners, Vanessa Paradis, and Winona Ryder are also expected to provide evidence.

In addition to the alleged incident in Australia, Sun’s defence team will refer to 13 separate allegations of domestic violence incidents between early 2013 and May 2016.

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