Johnny Depp Suffers Setback in U.K. Libel Case for Not Disclosing 'Drug Texts,' Judge Rules


Johnny Depp’s libel case against a U.K. tabloid has experienced a setback.

A U.K. High Court judge ruled Depp had violated a court order by failing to provide evidence of his alleged drug use to lawyers for The Sun, according to court documents obtained by PEOPLE.

The actor, 57, is suing the paper’s publisher, News Group Newspapers Ltd. and columnist Dan Wootton after a story written by Wootton was published in 2018 claiming the actor had been physically violent to his ex-wife, Amber Heard.

Depp has previously denied the allegations made by the outlet and by Heard.

An attorney for the actor did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

His trial against The Sun was set to begin in London on July 7, however, the publications attorneys have argued the case should be dismissed as Depp failed to provide text messages in which he allegedly attempted to gain access to drugs such as MDMA while he was in Australia with Heard in 2015, according to the court documents.

On Monday, Judge Andrew Nicol ruled the actor had breached his previous disclosure order and that the “Australian drug texts were adverse to the claimant’s pleaded case and/or were supportive of the defendants’ pleaded case.”

Nicol also wrote in his judgment that “the timing” of the texts was “significant” as they began “shortly before the alleged incidents in Australia” between Depp and Heard.

While the judge did not immediately dismiss Depp’s libel case, he did give the actor’s attorneys 36 hours to show why the trial should proceed.

One of Depp’s attorneys, David Sherborne, told the High Court on Monday during a remote hearing that “to punish [Depp] by taking the draconian step of striking out [the case] would be utterly disproportionate. This was no deliberate breach,” according to The Guardian.

Heard and Depp married in 2015. In May 2016, she filed for a domestic violence restraining order against him, accusing him of abusing her. Depp denied the claims, and the former couple settled their divorce out of court in August 2016 for $7 million, which she donated to charity. Both actors signed NDAs barring them from discussing their relationship publicly.

Depp sued her for defamation after she wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post in December 2018 in which she described being an alleged victim of domestic violence. While she never mentioned Depp by name, the actor’s lawsuit called her allegations against him a “hoax.”

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