Beautiful Virgin Islands

Saturday, Jan 28, 2023

Why did the Depp-Heard libel outcomes differ in the US and UK?

Why did the Depp-Heard libel outcomes differ in the US and UK?

Analysis: Specialist lawyers, a jury trial, social media and targeting Heard all helped Depp win in Virginia
Less than two years ago, Johnny Depp lost a UK libel case against the Sun after his ex-wife Amber Heard gave evidence to back claims in the newspaper that he was a wife-beater.

The judge, Mr Justice Nicol, said the Sun had proved its article to be “substantially true” and found that 12 of 14 alleged incidents of domestic violence against Heard had occurred.

At the time, Heard’s lawyer in the US, Elaine Charlson Bredehoft, said the ruling was no surprise. “Very soon, we will be presenting even more voluminous evidence in the US,” she said.

Bredehoft may well be surprised now. On Wednesday, Heard’s evidence was roundly rejected by a jury in Virginia despite it being assumed by many, including legal experts, that Depp had a weaker chance of victory.

The perceived wisdom is that it is much easier to win a defamation case in the UK than in the US, where the enshrinement of free speech in the first amendment of the constitution is sacrosanct. So what happened in this case to reverse the expected result?

Mark Stephens, an international media lawyer, said the fact that the US case was heard before a jury while the UK trial was heard before a judge was significant.

“Because the US trial was before a jury, it allowed Depp’s lawyers to focus on Heard,” a well-worn tactic of defendants in domestic abuse cases but one that was dismissed by the judge in the UK, Stephens said.

“They deny that they [their client] did anything, they deny they’re the real perpetrator, and they attack the credibility of the individual calling out the abuse, and then reverse the roles of the victim and the offender.”

Heard’s team also made tactical mistakes and were outdone by a more experienced set of lawyers, Stephens added. “Heard’s team were not predominantly trained libel lawyers and they were outgunned at every corner. They were up against a very strong team for Depp,” he said.

There were also claims that the use of “Darvo” tactics – when the alleged offender denies the behaviour, attacks the accuser, and reverses the roles of victim and offender – was not confined to the courts.

According to the US academic who coined the term Darvo and has studied the tactics used by alleged sexual predators, social media was used to undermine Heard’s case and bolster Depp’s.

Jennifer Freyd, a professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Oregon, said the traducing of Heard’s reputation online was “overwhelming”.

“Darvo refers to a reaction [that alleged] perpetrators of wrongdoing, particularly sexual offenders, may display in response to being held accountable for their behaviour,” she said.

“This occurs, for instance, when an actually guilty perpetrator assumes the role of ‘falsely accused’ and attacks the accuser’s credibility and blames the accuser of being the perpetrator of a false accusation.

“What we have witnessed in the US over this case has been an overwhelming case for Depp on social media. It is like an anti-Heard campaign and there has been a lot of Darvo.”

On TikTok, the hashtag #justiceforjohnnydepp received 19bn views. Jurors were instructed not to read about the case online but they were not sequestered and they were allowed to keep their phones.

Persephone Bridgman Baker, a partner at libel specialists Carter-Ruck, said that ultimately the jury believed Depp. “There seems no more obvious explanation than that the jury simply believed Depp’s evidence in the US proceedings, or, if you accept that a Darvo strategy was employed, that the jury accepted it.

“There was more evidence in the US proceedings about Heard’s credibility, on which the judge in the UK placed little importance: that is likely to have been a deliberate strategic decision by Depp’s team. While the judge in the UK proceedings decided Heard was a credible witness, that additional evidence may have swung a jury,” she said.

Will the US result have consequences for other women who wish to make claims of harassment or abuse against high-profile individuals, anywhere in the world? Freyd said it will. “Others who wish to make claims will see what has happened in this case, and see what has happened to Heard, and think twice. Many will be afraid to talk,” she said.
Newsletter

Related Articles

Beautiful Virgin Islands
Close
0:00
0:00
Tesla reported record profits and record revenues for 2022
I have a dream, MLK inspiring speech
Prince Andrew and Virginia Giuffre Photo Is Fake: Ghislaine Maxwell
Aretha Franklin, Marvis Staples - Oh Happy Day
Opinion | Israel’s Supreme Court Claims a Veto on Democracy
BVI Freedom Song
Moonwalker Buzz Aldrin Gets Married On His 93rd Birthday
Billy Preston - You Can't Beat God Giving (Live)
Who’s Threatening Israeli Democracy?
VIRGIN ISLANDS REGGAE CARIBBEAN RIDDIMZ
Federal Reserve Probes Goldman’s Consumer Business
Oh Happy Day Edwin Hawkins - Anthony Brown w FBCG Combined Choir
China's first population drop in six decades
'Stand by Me' performed by Karen Gibson and The Kingdom Choir
Microsoft is finalising plans to become the latest technology giant to reduce its workforce during a global economic slowdown
National Anthem of the British Virgin Islands - Oh, Beautiful Virgin
China's foreign ministry branch in Hong Kong urges British gov't to stop the biased and double standards Hong Kong report
Hello Dolly
Tesla slashes prices globally by as much as 20 percent
for KING & COUNTRY - Amen (Reborn) [feat. Lecrae & The WRLDFMS Tony Wi
1.4 Million Copies Of Prince Harry's Memoir 'Spare' Sold On 1st Day In UK
Bob Marley - Get Up Stand Up
After Failing To Pay Office Rent, Twitter May Sell User Names
Yes He Can
Lisa Marie Presley, singer and daughter of Elvis, dies aged 54
What A Friend We Have In Jesus
FIFA president questioned by prosecutors
Unforgettable
Britain's Sunak breaks silence and admits using private healthcare
Touch The Hem Of His Garment
Hype and backlash as Harry's memoir goes on sale. Unnamed royal source says prince 'kidnapped by cult of psychotherapy and Meghan'
The Lord's Prayer
Saudi Arabia set to overtake India as fastest-growing major economy this year 
THE GOD MOVEMENT...BEAUTIFUL BVI
Google and Facebook’s dominance in digital ads challenged by rapid ascent of Amazon and TikTok
Siyahamba
FTX fraud investigators are digging deeper into Sam Bankman-Fried's inner circle – and reportedly have ex-engineer Nishad Singh in their sights
Ray Charles And The Voices Of Jubilaton, Oh, Happy Day
TikTok CEO Plans to Meet European Union Regulators
Ramblin' Rose
UK chaos: Hong Kong emigrants duped by false prospectus
Protoje - Who Knows ft. Chronixx
France has banned the online sale of paracetamol until February, citing ongoing supply issues
Pressure - Virgin Islands Nice
Japan reportedly to give families 1 million yen per child to move out of Tokyo
Phil Wickham - House Of The Lord
Will Canada ever become a real democracy?
My God Is Real (Yes, God Is Real)
Hong Kong property brokerages slash payrolls in choppy market
The Lion King Circle of Life by LEBO M. — LIVE at the HAVASI Symphonic
U.S. Moves to Seize Robinhood Shares, Silvergate Accounts Tied to FTX
Louis Armstrong - When The Saints Go Marching In
Effect of EU sanctions on Moscow is ‘less than zero’ – Belgian MEP
Kanye West Sunday Service - hallelujah, salvation, and glory
Coinbase to Pay $100 Million in Settlement With New York Regulator
Jonathan Nelson - I Believe (Island Medley
FTX assets worth $3.5bn held by Bahamas securities regulator
From The Virgin Islands Sqad Up
Common, John Legend - Glory
Anthony Evans vs. Jesse Campbell - If I Ain't Got You
×