A court has given Johnny Depp access to his ex-wife Amber Heard's phone — which he hopes will prove she faked injuries he allegedly gave her.
The "Pirates of the Caribbean" star — who is waging a $50 million libel suit against Heard — claims she doctored photos purporting to show her with two black eyes, which she says she suffered in 2015 at the hands of the actor.
"Ms. Heard's counsel has repeatedly used these phony photographs at deposition," Depp's lawyer Benjamin Chew alleged to the Circuit Court of Fairfax County, Va., in a court filing.
Depp, 58, is suing Heard, 35, in Virginia over a 2019 op-ed in the Washington Post by the "Aquaman" actress, in which she wrote about domestic violence — but which he believes was a libelous attack on him.
Though she never mentioned Depp's name in the article, Heard has elsewhere claimed that she suffered two black eyes, a broken nose and a broken lip at his hands during a 2015 attack in Los Angeles, with photos of the alleged injuries published around the world.
Heard claimed she suffered two black eyes, a broken nose and a broken lip at the hands of Depp in 2015.
Chew, however, claims that when the LAPD responded to the alleged beating, "they found no injury upon Ms. Heard and no disruption to the penthouses.
"Ms. Heard and her friends then fabricated photos that she used to obtain an ex parte TRO [temporary restraining order] and a $7 million divorce settlement which Ms. Heard falsely testified in London she gave to the ACLU and, more scandalously, to the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles; sick children with cancer," Chew alleged in his filing.
He added that the LAPD "disavowed the photographs" and "said they did not depict what they saw."
The Virginia court ruled Wednesday that Depp's team can have an expert look at the phone and see if they can find evidence of any photo tampering.
Chew had argued that earlier images given to Depp's legal team came without any metadata, so their expert, Brian Neumeister, could not verify the details.
Depp and Heard were married from 2015 to 2017.
"Mr. Neumeister's preliminary investigation shows that a number of the photographs have been run through a photo — a photo editing application called Photo 3 that can easily manipulate images such as showing bruises where none actually existed," said Chew.
In November 2020, Depp lost his libel case against the UK's Sun newspaper over an article that called him a "wife beater."
The judge, Mr. Justice Nicol, said the Sun had proved that what was in the article was "substantially true" and found that 12 of the 14 alleged incidents of domestic violence had occurred.
In March, Depp was refused permission to appeal against the ruling.
Heard's lawyer says she "remains willing and able to support the authenticity of her evidence."
However, in his new Virginia court filing, Chew argued that the Sun's own expert concluded that Heard's photographs that showed injuries to her face from December 2015 "were manipulated three years later."
He said the expert found that photos from an iPad Pro 10.5 were created on or after October 6, 2018, adding: "As such, any editing of the trial bundle versions would have been on or after Oct. 6 2018.
"So Ms. Heard or someone on her behalf doctored those photographs three years later. When that came up in her testimony in London, Ms. Heard falsely denied it. In short, Your Honor, without forensic imaging Mr. Neumeister cannot properly assess or verify Ms. Heard's data," he claimed.
The court was told she appeared on James Corden's chat show the day after the alleged attack — with Heard claiming she was wearing heavy makeup to hide the bruising.
In the December 2019 op-ed at the heart of the lawsuit, Heard — who was married to the actor from 2015 to 2017 — wrote that she had "become a public figure representing domestic abuse."
Depp's name isn't mentioned, but the piece was widely interpreted as being about him. The actress wrote that she "felt the full force of our culture's wrath for women who speak out."
In response, Depp's lawyer Adam Waldman said the column was an "abuse of the #MeToo movement" and claimed Heard "masquerades as victim rather than abuser."
The suit claims that Depp has suffered financial losses because of the accusations, including being dropped from his role as Captain Jack Sparrow in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" films.
The judge Wednesday also denied that Depp should have to hand over his phone and laptop, saying Heard's attorneys had asked for "too broad" a search.
Depp lost a libel suit against the UK's the Sun in 2020 after the paper called him a "wife beater."
Heard's attorney Elaine Bredehoft told Page Six that Heard, "welcomes the opportunity to present her evidence in a trial by jury, in a court of law" next year — while claiming that Depp and his legal team are attempting to try the case via the media.
"This is a dirty strategy (after having been found to have committed multiple significant acts of domestic violence against Amber Heard) by Mr. Depp's legal team, to present false claims while avoiding accusations of defamation because of judicial immunity," Bredehoft said.
"While legal hearings are protected from defamation, they are not protected from leaks to the press, which is exactly Mr. Depp's intention – even though he lost every one of these arguments in the UK trial – his first choice of forum – he is trying to interject out-of-context and already proven to be false pieces from his unsuccessful efforts in court to attempt to deceive the public, pretending these issues have not already been fully tried, in his court of choice, where he lost.
"Now, in yet another court of law, he is unable to submit his own evidence because he has nothing to prove his claims."