Johnny Depp’s libel case against UK tabloid stalled by virus

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Johnny Depp

Actor Johnny Depp, center, leaves the High Court in London, after attending a preliminary hearing in his libel case against the publishers of The Sun and its executive editor, Dan Wootton, over a 2018 article alleging he had been abusive to his ex-wife Amber Heard, Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020. (Aaron Chown/PA via AP)

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LONDON (AP) — Johnny Depp’s libel suit against British tabloid The Sun was put on hold Friday as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Depp is suing the newspaper’s parent company, News Group Newspapers, and executive editor Dan Wootton over a 2018 article claiming he was violent and abusive to his ex-wife Amber Heard.

A trial had been due to start Monday at the High Court in London, with Depp, Heard and other celebrities due to give evidence. But judge Andrew Nicol said Friday that he had “reached the reluctant conclusion that the trial does have to be adjourned.”

The judge said two of Depp’s legal representatives had already had to self-isolate because of the virus, and added that “no-one can predict whether others involved in the case, and I do not exclude myself, will either become infected or need to self-isolate.”

Depp’s lawyer, Jennifer Afia, told a preliminary hearing this week that the actor was at a “remote location” in the south of France and could not travel because of restrictions imposed to fight the pandemic.

But the newspaper’s attorney, Adam Wolanski, alleged Depp wanted to delay the trial “because he’s a coward and because he knows he’s going to lose.” He said that despite the pandemic, Heard was willing to travel from Los Angeles to London to testify, or to give evidence by video.

Depp, 56, and Heard, 33, met on the set of 2011 comedy “The Rum Diary” and married in Los Angeles in February 2015. They divorced in 2017.

Depp is also suing Heard for libel in the United States.

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