A UK court has ruled against the actor Johnny Depp in his explosive libel case with The Sun, saying that the tabloid was justified in its use of the phrase “wife beater” in a 2018 article about his relationship with ex-wife Amber Heard.

The judge, Justice Andrew Nicol, decreed that the allegation was “substantially true” in today’s verdict.

The 129-page court document concludes plainly that “Mr Depp did assault Ms Heard” in reference to the multiple allegations of domestic violence that were presented during the trial, declaring that the “great majority” had been proved. The verdict also notes that it does not accept the characterization of Heard as a “gold-digger”.

“The Claimant has not succeeded in his action for libel. Although he has proved the necessary elements of his cause of action in libel, the Defendants have shown that what they published in the meaning which I have held the words to bear was substantially true,” the judge’s summation reads.

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The 16-day trial in July saw Depp and Heard trade accusations over their conduct during their short-lived marriage. Here’s a recap.

Heard’s allegations, which included 14 instances of abuse, formed the basis for The Sun parent company News Group Newspapers’ defense of its usage of the phrase “wife beater”. Depp in turn described Heard’s accusations as “sick” and a “hoax” and claimed the actress was the aggressor in their relationship.

Heard and Depp are now set for a second legal showdown in the States. Depp is suing Heard for $50M in Virginia over a Washington Post column she wrote about domestic violence. The actor has been ordered to sit for deposition November 11 by Fairfax County VA Circuit Court Chief Judge Bruce White.

Responding to today’s verdict, Heard’s U.S. lawyer Elaine Charlson Bredehoft told AP the outcome of the UK trial was “not a surprise”, adding that “very soon, we will be presenting even more voluminous evidence in the U.S.”

The pair met when starring in 2011 pic The Rum Diary. They were married in February 2015 and split in 2016.

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