Johnny Depp denies slapping ex-wife

US actor Johnny Depp waves as he arrives on the second day of his libel trial against News Group Newspapers (NGN), at the High Court in London, on July 8, 2020. (AFP Photo)

Hollywood actor Johnny Depp on Wednesday denied claims that he slapped his ex-wife Amber Heard, as he faced a second day of questioning in his high-profile libel trial in London.

The "Pirates of the Caribbean" star is suing British tabloid The Sun for a 2018 article which claimed he was a "wife-beater".

Both Depp, 57, and Heard, 34, were in court as lawyers for The Sun's publisher, News Group Newspapers (NGN), questioned him about allegations of violence during the couple's time together.

NGN is disputing the claim for libel, and said there is "overwhelming evidence" that he attacked Heard while under the influence of drink and drugs between 2013 and 2016.

The couple first met on the set of the 2011 film "The Rum Diary", married in 2015 but divorced two years later.

Lawyer Sasha Wass, representing NGN, put it to Depp that he had slapped Heard three times after she made fun of a "Wino Forever" tattoo on his arm in March 2013, when he was drinking heavily.

"I'm sorry but that is not true, you are mistaken... I didn't hit Ms Heard," the actor replied.

The tattoo originally read "Winona Forever" and referred to the actress Winona Ryder, with whom he had a previous relationship. He changed it after they broke up.

He also denied hitting Heard several times after an argument about her former partner, the painter and photographer Tasya van Ree.

Accusations that he tried to remove a painting of hers that was hanging in their bedroom and set fire to it is "not true", but he did remember having arguments with Heard about van Ree, Depp said.

Jekyll and Hyde

NGN is relying on 14 separate claims of domestic violence in its defence, all of which Depp denies.

The case opened at the High Court on Monday with Depp insisting in a witness statement that had "never abused Ms Heard, or, indeed any other woman" in his life.

He said Heard, an actress, was calculating, sociopathic, narcissistic and emotionally dishonest, with a diagnosed borderline personality disorder, and was intent on destroying his life.

Much of the questioning has involved his drinking and drug-taking but he insisted he did not have a "nasty side" and had not lost control while under the influence, as Heard has asserted.

Wass read an email written by Heard that was never sent that called him a "Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" character who left her torn between love and terror, and said he lived "in a world of enablers".

Depp said the allegations were "patently untrue" and indicated Heard was "building a dossier very early on that appears to be an insurance policy for later".

His legal team has called Heard's allegations "complete lies". They said she was a "complex individual", prone to wild mood swings, and took a variety of prescription medication and other drugs.

Rather than Depp being the perpetrator, she had subjected him to verbal and physical attacks, and he had to defend himself on occasions, they argued.

"He is not a wife-beater and never has been," his lawyer David Sherborne said.

Depp maintains The Sun article, which was published despite a previous public denial of violence, had caused "significant reputational damage" to his career.

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