A British superior court judge found Monday that actor Johnny Depp violated a court order by failing to reveal evidence related to his drug use to lawyers for the British tabloid The Sun, whom he sued for defamation.
Judge Andrew Nicol did not decide whether to dismiss Depp’s lawsuit against The Sun as a result of this breach.
Depp sued the newspaper’s publisher, News Group Newspapers, and executive editor Dan Wootton over a 2018 article that claims the actor was violent and abusive to his ex-wife Amber Heard.
The trial is set to begin in London Superior Court on July 7. But The Sun’s attorneys say the case should be dismissed because Depp did not disclose text messages that he exchanged with an assistant showing that he tried to buy “MDMA and other narcotics” while in Australia with Heard in 2015.
The newspaper’s attorney, Adam Wolanski, said withholding the texts violated a previous court order requiring Depp to provide all the documents in an independent defamation lawsuit against Heard in the United States. He said the lapse jeopardized the defendants’ opportunity to have a fair trial.
Judge Nicol concluded on Monday that Depp had failed to comply with the order to reveal the messages and concluded that “the Australian drug texts were adverse to the case brought by the plaintiff or supported the defendants’ case.”
The judge did not immediately dismiss the case, allowing Depp’s attorneys to argue why the trial should continue.
Depp’s attorney, David Sherborne, said it would be “very disproportionate” to dismiss the case.
“The main issue in dispute in this process is whether the plaintiff committed multiple acts of serious and unprovoked physical violence during his relationship with Amber Heard, causing him significant injuries and making him fear for his life,” he said. “It is time for the defendants to demonstrate what they have published.”
Depp, 57, and Heard, 34, met on the set of the 2011 comedy “The Rum Diary” and married in Los Angeles in February 2015. They divorced in 2017.
Each is accused of being abusive, and Depp has also sued Heard for defamation in the United States.
Depp and Heard are expected to present their evidence in person at the London trial, which was postponed since March due to the coronavirus pandemic.