04:55 GMT20 January 2021
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    Hollywood actors Johnny Depp and his ex-spouse Amber Heard have been locked in protracted duelling lawsuits, as the Pirates of the Caribbean star sued Heard for $50 million in 2019 over a Washington Post editorial where she claimed to have been a victim of domestic abuse, while the actress of Aquaman fame filed a counterclaim.

    US actress Amber Heard has been dealt a setback in her $100 mln (€81 mln) lawsuit against ex-husband Johnny Depp for allegedly manipulating a social media ‘smear campaign’ aimed at ruining her career, reported The Telegraph.

    A US Judge in Virginia on 4 January considered Heard’s claims that Depp had sought to discredit her by employing media bots in alleged violation of Virginia's Computer Crimes Act. However, he ruled that ‘disparaging’ comments allegedly made online by the actor against his ex-wife did not constitute defamation.

    “The pleading fails to demonstrate that the social media accounts communicated obscene language, suggested obscene acts, or threatened illegal or immoral acts,” said Fairfax County Judge Bruce White.

    It was added that Depp had texted statements, “privately, to two of his friends, and Ms. Heard has not alleged that Mr. Depp intended for her to see them.”

    American actress Amber Heard with lawyer Jennifer Robinson
    © AP Photo / Alastair Grant
    American actress Amber Heard with lawyer Jennifer Robinson

    Nevertheless, the court ruled that Johnny Depp shall further face his former wife’s claim regarding statements made by his lawyer, Adam Waldman, to the Daily Mail. Waldman had denounced Heard's allegations of abuse against Depp as "fake" and a "sexual violence hoax."

    A Duel of Lawsuits

    In the wake of a troubled marriage between the Rum Diary co-stars in 2015 that lasted just a year, the two celebrities have been vehemently sparring in court.

    Their union came to an end in 2016 with a temporary restraining order installed against Johnny Depp amid domestic violence claims on the part of his ex-wife. The actor has vehemently denied all accusations.

    The Pirates of the Caribbean star then sued Amber Heard for $50 mln in early 2019 over a Washington Post editorial in which she claimed, in December 2018, that she had been the victim of domestic abuse, while never actually naming Depp.

    However, the actor’s lawsuit contended that Heard, 34, was referring to him, with detrimental fallout for his career.

    Actor Johnny Depp poses for photographers upon arrival at the premiere of the film 'Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald', at a central London cinema, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018.
    © AP Photo / Joel C Ryan
    Actor Johnny Depp poses for photographers upon arrival at the premiere of the film 'Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald', at a central London cinema, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018.

    According to a Washington Post report, Disney was said to have dropped the actor from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise just days after the incendiary op-ed. Johnny Depp had portrayed the role of Jack Sparrow in five films across 14 years.

    In 2020 Amber Heard filed counterclaims against Depp, accusing him of masterminding a social media campaign seeking to ‘tarnish’ her image and ruin her career.

    In early November, a petition was launched calling for Heard's firing from Aquaman 2, after her ex-husband was dropped from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 3.

    Amber Heard had made her DC Extended Universe debut as Mera in 2017's Justice League, proceeding to take on a more prominent role opposite Jason Momoa in Aquaman the following year.

    Actress Amber Heard poses for photographers upon arrival at the world premiere of the film 'Aquaman', in London, Monday, Nov. 26, 2018
    © AP Photo / Vianney Le Caer
    Actress Amber Heard poses for photographers upon arrival at the world premiere of the film 'Aquaman', in London, Monday, Nov. 26, 2018

    Heard is currently set to play Mera again in Aquaman 2, which is scheduled for release in December 2022.

    ‘Wife Beater’

    Johnny Depp lost a separate libel case in the High Court in London, UK, in November, where he sued The Sun tabloid for labelling him a “wife beater”. A Judge ruled that 12 of the 14 alleged incidents of domestic violence mentioned in the newspaper’s article had occurred.

    Just days later, the actor revealed he had been asked by Warner Bros. to resign from his role as Gellert Grindelwald in the Fantastic Beasts 3 movie franchise.

    The actor has applied to a court of appeals to overturn the verdict.

    Related:

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    Johnny Depp's Lawyers Say Actor 'Did Not Receive Fair Trial', Appeal High Court Ruling in Libel Case
    'Johnny Depp Movie Night': Ostracised Celeb's Fans Protest New Amber Heard Show
    'Kill and Have No Regret': Johnny Depp Shares Odd New Year Post After Libel Trial Defeat
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    Amber Heard, Johnny Depp
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