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Johnny Depp and ex-wife Amber Heard have finally settled their defamation claims against each other — putting to an end the most bitter Hollywood divorce in modern times.
The pair’s lawyers have thrashed out a deal which will see Heard’s insurance company pay Depp $1million to put an end to the case.
But, in an important victory for the actress, there are no restrictions about what she can talk about in regards to the case and she has accepted no guilt, Mail Online can reveal.
The pair have been locked in a bitter legal battle on both sides of the Atlantic over the last six years after Heard alleged she was a victim of domestic violence during their short marriage.
A courtroom in London found in her favour, but a second case in Fairfax, Virginia, earlier this year came out on Depp’s side.
The actress, 36, was ordered to pay $10million in compensatory damages and $5million (later reduced to $365,000) in punitive damages following the six-week defamation while Depp, 59, was told to give her $2million the same courtroom after Heard countersued for defamation.
The pair’s legal teams have been locked in discussions to avoid the pain of a bruising third trial after Heard filed an appealA deal was finally made over the weekend with both sides agreeing to put out a statement today at 2pm GMT (9am ET).
‘Amber is now looking forward to moving on with her life as she planned to do six years ago,’ a source close to the actress told Mail Online.
‘She wants to put this unfortunate episode behind her and turn to what she loves in life; her career, her family and her causes.’
In the bombshell statement posted on Instagram Heard, she claimed ‘my life as I knew it was destroyed’ the court cases.
She added she had lost all faith of getting justice in the American legal system, comparing it to her treatment in the UK courts, and claimed that her former husband had won in the Virginia courtroom because of a vote ‘for popularity and power over reason and due process’.
Having already sold her LA home to help fund the legal action, she didn’t want to risk losing even moreThis settlement means her home insurance company will take on the payment to Depp.
I make this decision having lost faith in the American legal system, where my unprotected testimony served as entertainment and social media fodder.’
The full statement reads: ‘After a great deal of deliberation I have made a very difficult decision to settle the defamation case brought against me my ex-husband in Virginia.
It’s important for me to say that I never chose thisI defended my truth and in doing so my life as I knew it was destroyedThe vilification I have faced on social media is an amplified version of the ways in which women are re-victimised when they come forwardNow I finally have an opportunity to emancipate myself from something I attempted to leave over six years ago and on terms I can agree toI have made no admissionThis is not an act of concessionThere are no restrictions or gags with respect to my voice moving forward.
‘I make this decision having lost faith in the American legal system, where my unprotected testimony served as entertainment and social media fodder.
‘When I stood before a judge in the UK, I was vindicated a robust, impartial and fair system, where I was protected from having to give the worst moments of my testimony in front of the world’s media, and where the court found that I was subjected to domestic and sexual violenceIn the US, however, I exhausted almost all my resources in advance of and during a trial in which I was subjected to a courtroom that in which abundant, direct evidence that corroborated my testimony was excluded and in which popularity and power mattered more than reason and due processIn the interim I was exposed to a type of humiliation that I simply cannot re-liveEven if my US appeal is successful, the best outcome would be a re-trial where a new jury would have to consider the evidence againI simply cannot go through that for a third time.
Time is precious and I want to spend my time productively and purposefullyFor too many years I have been caged in an arduous and expensive legal process, which has shown itself unable to protect me and my right to free speechI cannot afford to risk an impossible bill – one that is not just financial, but also psychological, physical and emotionalWomen shouldn’t have to face abuse or bankruptcy for speaking her truth, but unfortunately it not uncommon.
‘In settling this case I am also choosing the freedom to dedicate my time to the work that helped me heal after my divorce; work that exists in realms in which I feel seen, heard and believed, and in which I know I can effect change.
‘I will not be threatened, disheartened or dissuaded what happened from speaking the truthNo one can and no one will take that from meMy voice forever remains the most valuable asset I have.
‘I’d like to thank my outstanding appellate and original trial teams for their relentless hard workI want to thank everyone who has supported me and turn my attention to the growing support that I’ve felt and seen publicly in the months since trial, and the efforts that have been made to show solidarity with my storyAny survivor knows that the ability to tell their story often feels like the only relief, and I cannot find enough words to tell you the hope your belief in me inspires, not just for me, but for all of you.
‘Thank youSee you soon.’
Depp is expected to put out his own statement imminently.
While former Pirates of the Caribbean star Depp has attempted to restart his career, it is clear that the ongoing litigation has had a huge effect on it, including the actor being fired from the Fantastic Beasts franchise after the London court case.
Earlier this month, when his name was on a longlist of music which could be Brit Awards winners, there were reports that female musicians would boycott the event if he was on the shortlist.
Heard, meanwhile, has become so worried about her safety that she felt forced to leave America with her daughter Oonagh and is now living in an unknown country.
Her career has also taken a huge knock thanks in part to a vicious social media assault on her, although earlier this year she filmed independent movie The Fire and remains a part of the Aquaman 2 film which is out next year.
Last month an influential Open Letter campaign involving more than 200 domestic abuse campaigners and organisations hit out at the ongoing attacks on Heard saying: ‘Much of this harassment was fueled disinformation, misogyny, biphobia and a monetized social media environment where a woman’s allegations of domestic violence and sexual assault were mocked for entertainment.’
The vicious court battle between Heard and Depp stunned the world, drawing back the curtains on the shocking drug taking, alcoholism and violence in one of the most famous and seemingly glamorous Hollywood unions.
Depp, once one of the world’s highest paid actors, admitted to problems with both drugs and alcohol during the proceedings while Heard revealed how their love story had turned so sour.
In one of the most talked about allegations of the court case, she was accused of defecating on his side of the bed which led to her being nicknamed ‘Amber Turd’.
The pair met in 2009 when Heard auditioned for a role in Depp’s film The Rum Diary but they only got together in 2012, when they were promoting the film.
By then, Depp’s 14-year-relationship with Vanessa Paradis, the mother of his two children Lily-Rose and John Christopher was over while Heard had also split with partner Tasya van Ree.
They married on February 1 2015 but the actress filed for divorce on May 23 2016, obtaining a temporary restraining order after claiming that Depp had physically abused her during their relationship.
In August 2016 the pair reached a $7million financial settlement and Heard withdrew her request for a domestic violence restraining order.
Their joint statement said: ‘Our relationship was intensely passionate and at times volatile but always bound loveNeither party has made false accusations for financial gainThere was never any intent of physical or emotional harm.’
In April 2018 MailOnline columnist Dan Wootton, writing then for The Sun, asked, ‘How can JK Rowling be ‘genuinely happy’ casting wife-beater Johnny Depp in the new Fantastic Beasts film?’
Later that year Heard wrote an opinion piece for The Washington Post saying she had been abused, but never naming Depp as her abuser.
The actor decided to sue in both casesThe London libel action was against The Sun’s publisher News Group Newspapers and Wootton but Heard joined the team when the case was heard over three weeks in July 2020 at the High Court.
The judge, who sat without a jury, ruled that Heard’s evidence was ‘substantially true’, that the actor had assaulted his wife in 12 of the 14 alleged incidents and had put her in fear of her life.
Depp’s attempt to appeal the case was turned down and so all was riding on the American case.
Filmed and watched a huge global audience who commented on every sigh and every facial expressionThe case was viciously debated on social media for six weeks and, the end, both of their reputations had been shattered among the counter allegations of lies, abhorrent behaviour and violence.
Top media lawyer Mark Lewis said: ‘While the two main actors paid amounts that would make an English lawyer blush, a golden ticket was given to billions of people to watch dirty sheets being washed in public.
‘The case ground on to the point where both parties must have realised that the only winners were the lawyers, the entertainment was for the onlookers and the losers were Ms Heard and Mr Depp, both of whom leave the case financially much worse off.
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