Re-open Appeal (UK) of Johnny Depp defamation case, following unanimous US Jury Verdict

Re-open Appeal (UK) of Johnny Depp defamation case, following unanimous US Jury Verdict

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BlackBelt Barrister started this petition to Lord Chief Justice

I am a practising barrister in England and Wales and have strong views about this subject matter. I bring this petition to represent what I hope will become a great many signatures that support a request for the court to consider an order of its own motion to grant permission under CPR 52.30 (Reopening a final appeal, including permission to appeal) in the case of John Christopher Depp II v News Group Newspapers Ltd. & Anr. Case No: QB-2018-006323

The world watched as the US trial unfolded and the jury delivered its verdict in contrast to the findings of the trial judge in the UK.

Incompatible outcomes for natural justice

Following the jury trial in Johnny Depp v Amber Heard in the United States (John C. Depp, II v. Amber Laura Heard (CL–2019–2911), the jury returned the unanimous verdict that Amber Heard defamed Johnny Depp in her statements of the alleged abuse and, therefore, that the alleged abuse did not occur. 

This is in stark contrast with the UK judgment, rendering it wholly incompatible as a matter of natural justice.

Inconsistent evidential findings

There are numerous noteworthy issues in respect of the evidence of both cases, including, inter alia, police officer accounts that were discounted, yet proven by body-worn cam footage, and photographs that were shown in the US trial to have been digitally edited to misrepresent injuries.

The effective opponent

In my humble view, there can be no basis to counter the notion that Amber Heard was the effective opponent in the UK trial (albeit not a party), given that the subject matter was inescapably a set in her allegations of domestic abuse against Johnny Depp, which The Sun published its article online. Mr Depp's lawyers made such arguments throughout the UK trial. Yet, the learned judge's remarks in paragraph 576 of the judgement were that "[he was] not persuaded that these comments carry any weight."

Issues with disclosure

Since Amber Heard was not a party to the claim, she was not subject to the same disclosure obligations under our civil procedure rules. Mr Depp's lawyers made an application for third-party disclosure against Amber Heard (as required by the rules), but this was refused.

Hence, The learned judge in the case (at para 576 of the judgement) noted that Mr Depp must have been warned about the consequences of pursuing a claim against the defendants when they (not Amber Heard) were subject to the rules and obligations of disclosure. 

With full respect to the learned judge, this goes against natural logic and, as it would seem, natural justice. This has led many, including me, to ask:

How can this have ever achieved a just outcome?

How can this be fair?

As noted from para 52.30.1 of the White Book 2022:

In Taylor v Lawrence [2002] EWCA Civ 90, a five-judge Court of Appeal decided that the court had jurisdiction to re-open final appeals in exceptional circumstances. The then Lord Chief Justice, giving the judgment of the court, reasoned as follows. The Court of Appeal has two objectives: (a) to correct wrong decisions; (b) to clarify and develop the law and set precedents. An appellate court has the implicit powers to do that which is necessary to achieve those dual objectives. Accordingly, the Court of Appeal has a residual jurisdiction to reopen an appeal, in order to avoid real injustice in exceptional circumstances.

I humbly present this petition on the basis that the above disparity in the two decisions represents such exceptional circumstances intended by the rules and the ruling in Taylor to safeguard natural justice in cases, I suggest, like this.

Here are my videos analysing the case and judgment:

https://youtu.be/rCqdr6zNPV0

https://youtu.be/iPfPG0qSERs

https://youtu.be/R1J2kR7aUS0

 

 

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