The witness statements of actresses Winona Ryder and Vanessa Paradis, who are backing Johnny Depp in his libel trial against the Sun, were published after PA successfully appealed to the judge.
Depp’s former partners were due to give evidence by videolink to London’s High Court this week but his legal team decided not to call them.
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The actor’s barrister, David Sherborne, told the court it was now the extent of Sun publisher News Group Newspapers’ defence case that Depp was not violent more generally, but only to his ex-wife Amber Heard, and there was therefore no need to call the actresses to give evidence.
Sasha Wass QC, representing NGN, said the publisher’s legal team would have wanted to cross-examine Paradis and Ryder, but could not if they were no longer to be called as witnesses.
Normally witness statements are published only when the person who made them takes to the witness box.
But Ryder and Paradis’ statements were published after PA court reporter Sam Tobin made representations to the judge that they have both been referred to in earlier hearings and have therefore effectively been put before the court.
According to journalist Nick Wallis, who is live tweeting the trial for crowdfunded donations, journalists applauded Tobin when he returned to the courtroom where they are watching proceedings to ensure social distancing.
Depp is suing NGN and Sun executive editor Dan Wootton over the publication of an article in April 2018 with the headline: “Gone Potty: How can JK Rowling be ‘genuinely happy’ casting wife beater Johnny Depp in the new Fantastic Beasts film?”
In her witness statement, Depp’s ex-wife and mother of his two children Paradis said: “Through all these years I’ve known Johnny to be a kind, attentive, generous and non-violent person and father.
“On movie sets the actors, directors and entire crews adore him because he is humble and respectful to everyone, as well as being one of the best actors we’ve seen.”
Paradis’ statement continued: “I am aware of the allegations which Amber Heard has publicly accused Johnny of for more than four years now.
“This is nothing like the true Johnny I have known, and, from my personal experience of many years, I can say he was never violent or abusive to me.
“I have seen that these outrageous statements have been really distressing, and also caused damage to his career because unfortunately people have gone on believing these false facts.”
Stranger Things actress Ryder, who was engaged to Depp in the 1990s, said in her statement: “I understand that it is very important that I speak from my own experience, as I obviously was not there during his marriage to Amber, but, from my experience, which was so wildly different, I was absolutely shocked, confused and upset when I heard the accusations against him.”
Ryder went on: “The idea that he is an incredibly violent person is the farthest thing from the Johnny I knew and loved.
“I cannot wrap my head around these accusations. He was never, never violent towards me. He was never, never abusive at all towards me. He has never been violent or abusive towards anybody I have seen.
“I truly and honestly only know him as a really good man – an incredibly loving, extremely caring guy who was so very protective of me and the people that he loves, and I felt so very, very safe with him.
“I do not want to call anyone a liar but, from my experience of Johnny, it is impossible to believe that such horrific allegations are true. I find it extremely upsetting, knowing him as I do.”
Picture: Victoria Jones/PA Wire