Depp denies slapping ex-wife in tattoo row

Johnny Depp has faced a second day of cross-examination by lawyers for British newspaper The Sun.
Johnny Depp has faced a second day of cross-examination by lawyers for British newspaper The Sun.

Hollywood star Johnny Depp denied slapping his ex-wife Amber Heard after he became angry because she laughed at one of his tattoos, London's High Court has heard.

Giving evidence on the second day of his libel trial against Britain's Sun newspaper, which described him as a "wife beater", Depp was asked by the paper's lawyer about an incident at Heard's home in March 2013 when he had "fallen off the wagon" and it was alleged he had struck her.

Sasha Wass, the Sun's lawyer, said Depp, who had started drinking again after months of sobriety, had become angry when she mocked one of his tattoos which he had changed from "Winona forever" - a reference to his former girlfriend Winona Ryder - to "Wino forever".

He had then slapped her three times because she had initially not reacted, Wass said on Wednesday.

"That's not the case, that's untrue. It didn't happen," Depp said. "I don't recall any argument about any of my tattoos."

Wass also said he had struck Heard, 34, when he tried to remove a painting from her bedroom given to her by her former partner Tasya Van Ree and tried to set it alight, one of 14 episodes of violence of which he is accused in the case.

"I did not hit Miss Heard and furthermore I have never hit Miss Heard," Depp said.

Lawyers for the Sun's publisher, News Group Newspapers, argue the paper's account is true and Heard was punched, slapped and kicked her during violent rages, brought on by anger and jealousy and fuelled by alcohol and drugs.

Wass read to the court an email she said Heard had composed in 2013 but never sent in which she said he had hurt her physically and emotionally and she did not know if she was dealing with him or "the monster".

"It's like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde," the email said, adding how friends and assistants had to deal with the actor, passed out in his own vomit and having soiled himself with no recollection later of his actions.

Depp characterised the allegations as a hoax.

"It appears to me that Miss Heard was building a dossier that appears to be an insurance policy for later," he said of the email.

Asked if the allegations, first publicly aired in 2016, were something she had plotted for three years, he said: "By the evidence that I have seen."

In evidence and in his witness statement to the court on Tuesday, Depp, 57, accused Heard, who is also attending the trial, of lying, saying she had attacked him, severing his finger off during one encounter.

He denies he turned into "the monster" when under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Among the evidence given to the court on Tuesday was a detailed account of Depp's heavy drinking and drug-taking, with the actor saying he had tried "every drug known to man" and spent $US30,000 a month on wine.

The couple met on the set of the 2011 film The Rum Diary and married in February 2015. However, Heard filed for divorce after 15 months and their divorce was finalised in 2017. The case is set to last three weeks.

Australian Associated Press