UK judge says Amber Heard can be in court for Depp testimony

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Johnny Depp

FILE – In this Oct. 11, 2015 file photo, Amber Heard, left, and Johnny Depp arrive at the premiere of Depp’s film “Black Mass,” at the London film festival. Free press advocates in Virginia are concerned that a libel lawsuit between Depp and Heard could set a bad precedent. The Virginia Press Association asked Friday, Nov. 8, 2019 to intervene in a $50 million lawsuit Depp filed against Heard, his ex-wife. Depp says he was defamed by an op-ed piece Heard wrote in The Washington Post in December 2018, in which she never identified Depp by name but referred to herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse.” Depp has denied abusing Heard and said the article clearly refers to earlier abuse allegations Heard made against him. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP, File)

LONDON (AP) — Johnny Depp’s lawyers have failed to stop the American 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 defense.”

Depp, 57, is suing The Sun’s publisher, News Group Newspapers, and Executive Editor Dan Wootton over a 2018 article claiming the actor 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, which was postponed from March because of the coronavirus pandemic, is scheduled to start Tuesday and to last three weeks.

Other witnesses are likely to include Depp’s ex-partners Vanessa Paradis and Winona Ryder, who have both submitted statements supporting the “Pirates of the Caribbean” star.

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