Actor Johnny Depp's libel trial against The Sun opens in London

The star of the Pirates of the Caribbean begins legal action over a newspaper article that called him a ‘wife beater’.

Hollywood star Johnny Depp has begun legal action against a British tabloid over allegations he had physically abused his ex-wife, the actress Amber Heard, accusing her of lying.

Depp, the 57-year-old star of the Pirates of the Caribbean films, is suing The Sun’s publisher, News Group Newspapers, and its executive editor, Dan Wootton, for libel over an article Wootton wrote in April 2018 calling him a “wife beater”.

Depp’s lawyer David Sherborne on Tuesday said in a written opening statement to London’s High Court that the libel case involved “well-known actor Johnny Depp” and “allegations that he seriously physically assaulted his former wife, the actress, Amber Heard”.

“Not just once but on at least 14 different occasions it is now said, causing her such serious injuries and being so violent that it led Ms Heard to fear for her very life,” Sherborne said.

He said Heard had first aired the allegations in May 2016 when she obtained a restraining order against Depp at a Los Angeles court when she appeared to have bruises on her face caused in an incident six days earlier.

“There is a substantial body of evidence … which clearly demonstrates that this was a lie manufactured by Ms Heard and her friends,” Sherborne said.

Three-week trial

Heard and Depp, who were expected to give evidence, were present in the courtroom.

The case is set to last for three weeks, the judge, Andrew Nicol said.

The couple met on the set of the 2011 film The Rum Diary and married in February 2015. But she filed for divorce after 15 months and days later obtained a restraining order against him.

She has accused him of physical abuse during their relationship, allegations he denies.

Their divorce was finalised in 2017 when the restraining order was dismissed and Depp agreed to pay her a previously announced sum of $7m.

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