Amber Heard was the “antagoniser” in her relationship with Johnny Depp, often “goading” and attempting to provoke the actor, the High Court has heard in the actor’s libel trial against The Sun.
The couple argued “like schoolchildren”, with rows starting from “banal beginnings” before escalating, according to Depp’s former estate manager.
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Ben King, who worked for the Hollywood star for three separate periods between 2014 and 2016, in Australia, London and Vancouver, Canada, also said in witness statements that Depp, 57, often left notes with comments such as “let’s not do this again” and “I love you”.
Depp is suing News Group Newspapers and Sun executive editor Dan Wootton over an April 2018 article that labelled him a “wife beater” and alleged he was violent towards ex-wife Heard, 34, during their relationship.
In one written statement, King said that during his employment he “frequently witnessed Ms Heard goading and attempting to provoke Mr Depp”, adding he never saw the actor “be violent or unkind towards Ms Heard, or indeed towards anyone else”.
In a second statement, he said: “Of what I heard of their arguments, they could start from very banal beginnings.
“On one occasion in London, I recall Ms Heard complained that Mr Depp had removed his hand from hers, and she complained along the lines of ‘maybe you don’t love me’.
“The argument then carried on and escalated seriously. The way they argued could make them seem like schoolchildren.
“In hindsight, during the month in London, and thereafter during my time in Australia, I saw Ms Heard as the antagoniser.
“Mr Depp seemed keen to walk out of, or away from, arguments.”
He added: “I want to make clear that I did not see any violence at any time. I do not want to accuse Ms Heard of anything, but this was what I saw of the pattern of their arguments.”
King said he had been told when he interviewed for the job that Depp was teetotal, adding he was “surprised” when they arrived at the London house that they brought “a relatively large number of cases of wine”.
He went on to say that during their London stay in October 2014, he did not see Depp drink, but he believed Heard “would regularly drink at least one or two bottles a night”.
King claimed he made a tally of the bottles each morning and would “often” see Heard drinking wine.
In his first witness statement, King said that in March 2015, he was summoned to the house the couple were renting in Australia, where he found a “significant amount of damage” and discovered the actor’s severed finger tip on the floor of the bar area while cleaning up broken glass and debris.
Depp has been accused of subjecting Heard to a “three-day hostage situation” and trashing the house during the Australia trip, which he denies.
The actor’s finger was severed during the stay, which he says was caused by Heard throwing a bottle at him, which she denies.
King said that on the flight back to Los Angeles from Australia with Heard, she asked him “have you ever been so angry with someone that you just lost it?”
He said: “I replied that that had never happened to me. She seemed incredulous and asked again, ‘you have never been so angry with someone that you just lost it?’
“Again, I answered that I had not and Ms Heard did not continue on this topic. This question seemed alarming to me, given the severity of the damage I had earlier witnessed at the house and the apparent serious injury to Mr Depp’s finger.”
Another of Depp’s former employees, estate manager Kevin Murphy, told the High Court Heard had “demanded” he make a false statement when she faced criminal proceedings in Australia in October 2015 for taking her dogs into the country illegally.
Murphy also claimed she had asked him to contact her former assistant, Kate James, and ask her to “lie under oath” to an Australian court.
He said: “Specifically, Ms Heard wanted Ms James to give a false statement that Ms Heard was unaware that it would be illegal for her to bring her dogs into Australia.
“Ms Heard was aware that this was illegal, because I had informed her repeatedly by email, telephone and in person.”
Murphy alleged he had told Heard he was “uncomfortable” with giving a false statement to the court and that “he would not ask Ms James to do so”.
In his written statement, Murphy also said that shortly after this, Heard “demanded verbally that I myself make a false witness statement regarding the dogs’ illegal entrance into Australia”.
He said: “I expressed that I was extremely uncomfortable with doing so, to which Ms Heard responded with words to the effect of: ‘Well I want your help on this … I wouldn’t want you to have a problem with your job’.
“Ms Heard’s threatening language made me feel anxious and uneasy.”
Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire