Johnny Depp’s lawyers have failed to stop the US actor’s ex-wife, Amber Heard, from attending his libel trial against the British tabloid newspaper The Sun until she is called to give evidence.
In a court order published on Saturday, trial judge Andrew Nicol said that excluding Heard from the London courtroom before she testifies in the case “would inhibit the defendants in the conduct of their defence”.
Depp, 57, is suing The Sun‘s publisher, Rupert Murdoch’s News Group Newspapers, and executive editor Dan Wootton over a 2018 article claiming the Pirates of the Caribbean star was violent and abusive to Heard.
He strongly denies the allegations.
Depp’s lawyers had asked the judge to keep Heard from attending the trial until the 34-year-old actress and model appears to give evidence, arguing that her testimony would be more reliable if she were not present in court when Depp was being cross-examined.
The judge noted it is News Group and Wootton, and not Heard, that are defending the claim, while conceding they will be relying “heavily” on what Heard says.
The trial, postponed from March because of the coronavirus pandemic, is scheduled to start on Tuesday and is expected to last three weeks.
Other witnesses will most include Depp’s ex-partners Vanessa Paradis and Winona Ryder, who have both submitted statements supporting Depp’s version of events.