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Johnny Depp denies slapping ex-wife for laughing at his tattoo

By BBC News

Johnny Depp has denied he slapped ex-wife Amber Heard after she laughed at one of his tattoos, as he appeared at a hearing at London’s High Court.

He accused Ms Heard of “building a dossier” against him after the court heard she wrote an email describing him as a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde character.

Mr Depp, 57, is suing the publisher of the Sun newspaper over an article that referred to him as a “wife beater”.

The Sun has defended the accuracy of its story.

It had referred to “overwhelming evidence” that Mr Depp attacked Ms Heard, 34, during their relationship – which he strenuously denies.

Mr Depp is suing News Group Newspapers (NGN) and its executive editor Dan Wootton over the article, published in 2018.

Ms Heard claims that Mr Depp first hit her in early 2013 – one of 14 separate allegations of domestic violence, all denied by Mr Depp, which are being relied on by NGN in their defence.

‘Wino Forever’

On the second day of the hearing, NGN’s lawyer Sasha Wass QC began by asking Mr Depp about an alleged incident in March 2013 involving one of his tattoos which reads “Wino Forever”.

It had originally said “Winona Forever” in reference to his relationship with actress Winona Ryder, but he had changed it when they split in 1993.

Ms Wass said Ms Heard – who was also in court – had made a joke out of the tattoo at a time when he was drinking heavily after about 160 days of sobriety.

Mr Depp replied: “I don’t recall any conversation.”

Ms Wass said the actor then slapped his ex-wife across the face, a total of three times. He denied this.

The barrister then put it to Mr Depp that he “broke down” after coming to his senses and realising what he had done, to which he said: “I didn’t hit Ms Heard.”

‘Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’

The High Court also heard details of the email Ms Heard wrote to the actor – but never sent – saying he lived “in a world of enablers”.

It it, she said: “It’s like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Half of you, I love. Madly. The other half scares me.”

She wrote that she knew she was “dealing with the monster” when he had been drinking.

In response, Mr Depp, 57, said the “dossier” was being built up from early on “that appears to be an insurance policy for later”.

He agreed he would describe the allegation he was a serial domestic abuser as a “hoax”, adding the claims were “patently untrue”.

The court heard about another alleged incident that month when Ms Heard claims Mr Depp hit her several times after an argument about a painting by her ex-partner, Tasya van Ree, which was hanging in her Los Angeles home.

Ms Wass read out part of Mr Depp’s witness statement in which he said he had asked Ms Heard to remove the painting “as a courtesy” to him.

He said she hadn’t taken it down it but denied allegations put to him by Ms Wass that he tried to remove the painting and to set fire to it, saying each time they were “not true”.

Mr Depp was asked whether he would describe himself as jealous. He responded: “I am, yes. I can be jealous.”

‘Blind rage’

Ms Wass asked Mr Depp about an alleged incident on a flight from Boston to Los Angeles in May 2014.

The barrister put it to Mr Depp that he had been “screaming obscenities” at Ms Heard on the plane and brought up the subject of fellow actor James Franco – whom Mr Depp “suspected” was having an affair with his partner.

Ms Wass said Mr Depp threw ice cubes at Ms Heard, and was “in a blind rage”, becoming so angry he slapped her across the face.

Mr Depp denied that happened, or that he called Ms Heard a “slut” and a “whore”.

The barrister suggested the actor went to the toilet of the plane, where he passed out.

Mr Depp said in response: “As Ms Heard was berating me, screaming at me and whatnot, as is her wont, she began to get physical.”

He added that he then “grabbed a pillow from the couch and slept on the bathroom floor”.

Ms Wass asked about an incident in which Ms Heard’s dog “had eaten some hash, some cannabis – quite a lot”.

The actor replied: “The puppy got a hold of a little ball of hashish and just scooped it up before I could get to it.”

The court has also heard about an alleged incident in which it is claimed Mr Depp held another of Ms Heard’s dogs out of a car window, which he dismissed as “utter falsity”.

On the first day of the libel case the court heard that Mr Depp denied being violent towards his ex-wife and accused Ms Heard of being violent towards him.

NGN previously tried to have the case thrown out, but Mr Justice Nicol ruled last week the case could go ahead.

The case arose out of the publication of an article on the Sun’s website headlined: “Gone Potty: How can JK Rowling be ‘genuinely happy’ casting wife beater Johnny Depp in the new Fantastic Beasts film?”

The Sun’s original article related to allegations made by the actress, who was married to the Pirates of the Caribbean star from 2015 to 2017.

Witnesses including Mr Depp’s former partners Vanessa Paradis and Winona Ryder are expected to give evidence via video link, and the hearing is expected to last for three weeks.

Mr Depp, has been Oscar and Bafta-nominated and won a Golden Globe in 2008 for Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

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