Amber Heard and Johnny Depp attending the premiere of Black Mass during the 59th BFI London Film Festival at the Odeon Leicester Square, London

New York Daily News: LONDON, England – A British court on Monday ruled against Johnny Depp in his highly publicized libel case against a newspaper that called him a “wife beater” for allegedly assaulting former spouse Amber Heard.

Justice Andrew Nicol said in his ruling that News Group Newspapers, publisher of The Sun, had shown that its 2018 article “was substantially true.”

“I have found that the great majority of alleged assaults of Ms Heard by Mr Depp have been proved to the civil standard,” the judge wrote.

The decision deals a major blow to the “Sweeney Todd” actor, who filed the lawsuit in hopes of clearing his name and salvage his reputation after years of domestic violence claims against him. It also marks a “stunning victory for press freedom,” as The Sun put it in a statement Monday.

“The Sun has stood up and campaigned for the victims of domestic abuse for over twenty years,” the British tabloid said after the ruling. “Domestic abuse victims must never be silenced and we thank the Judge for his careful consideration and thank Amber Heard for her courage in giving evidence to the court.”

The paper’s defense team told London’s High Court in July that its article calling Depp a “wife beater” was based on 14 allegations of abuse made by Heard between 2013 and 2016, when the “Rum Diary” co-stars were together. The piece, written by editor Dan Wootton, criticized J.K. Rowling’s decision to cast “wife beater Johnny Depp” in her new “Fantastic Beasts” film adaptation.

Depp’s lawsuit resulted in an explosive trial that featured damaging and embarrassing testimonies about his toxic relationship with Heard, a 34-year-old actress and model who was The Sun’s star witness and shared shocking details about her allegations.

Photo: The Toronto Star

Among her claims, Heard said her “monster” ex-husband assaulted her numerous times in Los Angeles, Australia, Japan, the Bahamas, on a private jet and other locations. She accused him of hurling bottles at her as if they were “grenades or bombs,” kneeling on her back, hitting her head against a refrigerator, throwing her onto a table and threatening to put her dog in the microwave.

Heard also told the court that many of the alleged assaults were fueled by Depp’s excessive drug use and drinking as well as jealousy.

The “Pirates of the Caribbean” star acknowledged taking drugs over the years — including ecstasy, cocaine and magic mushrooms — but he strongly denied Heard’s assault allegations. He described her claims as “pedestrian fiction” and accused her of building a fake dossier as “an insurance policy.”

Depp also tried to paint his ex-wife as the aggressor, accusing her of severing his finger, burning his cheek with a cigarette, faking injuries to incriminate him and possibly defecating on their bed.

Heard insisted during her emotional testimony that she was telling the truth.

“What woman has ever benefited from being a victim of domestic violence?” she said in court.

The woman’s US attorney, Elaine Bredehoft, said the verdict is “not a surprise” for anyone who followed the trial.

“Very soon, we will be presenting even more voluminous evidence in the US,” Bredehoft said in a statement.

Monday’s ruling is not the end of the couple’s legal battle. Depp is also suing his former partner for $50 million in Virginia over a Washington Post article about domestic violence.

  • Top Feature Photo: Johnny Depp – Andreas Rentz/Getty Images for ZFF