On Friday morning, the Pirates Of The Caribbean star’s barrister David Sherborne said they had received a video from a “confidential source” on Thursday night, after Whitney Henriquez gave evidence earlier in the day that her sister had never attacked her.
The claim was made at the outset of the 14th day of Mr Depp’s libel claim against The Sun over allegations he was violent to his ex-wife. On Thursday, Henriquez denied Heard had ever hit her, or that she was “frightened” of her sister.
She also gave evidence she saw Depp punch Heard “really hard in the head … multiple times” in Los Angeles in March 2015 in the so-called “stairs incident.”
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Henriquez admitted that Heard punched Depp on that occasion, but only did so “in my defense” because her sister believed the actor was going to push her down the stairs. Sherborne told the court that Henriquez had “tailored” her evidence “to meet her sister’s evidence.”
The barrister added that Depp’s legal team had been provided with “material which we say demonstrates Ms Whitney (Henriquez) was lying yesterday.”
Depp, 57, is suing The Sun’s publisher, News Group Newspapers (NGN), and its executive editor Dan Wootton over an April 2018 article which labelled him a “wife beater” over claims he attacked Heard, 34, during their relationship.
At the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Sherborne said: “After she (Ms Henriquez) gave evidence yesterday, one of our team was contacted by an individual, on the basis of being kept confidential.”
He added: “We were contacted to explain that Ms Amber Heard had a history of violence and attacking people and this video, which was attached, of her sister Whitney (Henriquez) was taken shortly after Amber Heard had attacked her and Ms Whitney (Henriquez) was filmed with people commenting on the bruises on her face and body.”
Sherborne told Justice Nicol: “In the context of the attack, what I will call ‘the stairs incident’, and the evidence we say of the attack by Ms Amber Heard on Mr Depp, Ms Whitney (Henriquez) you will recall protested that it was only in self-defense and it is the one physical attack that Ms Amber Heard admits to.”
He said that, on Thursday, Henriquez was asked “whether Ms Amber Heard was violent” and said that “the stairs incident” in Los Angeles in March 2015 was a “one-off.”
Sherborne continued that Henriquez’s evidence about the incident in March 2015 is “the only occasion on which any other human being is supposed to have witnessed” Depp being violent towards Heard. He added: “The reliability of Ms Whitney (Henriquez) is critical.”
Sherborne said Heard’s evidence is that “she was never violent, she (has not) physically attacked Mr Depp … and the only occasion is said to be when she was acting in self-defense.” “Evidence that Ms Heard was violent towards her sister is relevant to that issue,” Sherborne said.
He told the court: “We are entitled to put (allegations of) violence to Ms Whitney (Henriquez) … we want to play the video tape to her and ask her about the incident in which Ms Amber Heard attacked her.”
Sherborne added: “Had we received this before the end of yesterday, we would have been entitled to put (the allegation) to her and we would be entitled to rely on it in our closing submissions.”
Henriquez’s cross-examination concluded on Thursday afternoon and she was due to be questioned by NGN’s barrister Sasha Wass QC on Friday. Wass said she had not seen the video and was not aware of it until Sherborne told the court about it.
Justice Nicol said he wanted to “press on” with other witnesses’ evidence “and, if there is an opportunity for Ms Wass to see the video before we get to the issue, that would be desirable.”
Henriquez was due to finish her evidence on Friday morning before Heard’s acting coach Kristina Sexton appears by video link from Australia and Heard’s friends iO Tillett Wright and Raquel “Rocky” Pennington give evidence from the US.
Sexton began her evidence by video link from Australia on Friday morning, and denied “enthusiastically” supporting Heard’s allegations against Depp.
Depp is suing over the publication of an article on April 27 2018 with the headline: “Gone Potty: How can JK Rowling be ‘genuinely happy’ casting wife beater Johnny Depp in the new Fantastic Beasts film?”
His lawyers say the article bore the meaning there was “overwhelming evidence” Depp assaulted Ms Heard on a number of occasions and left her “in fear for her life.”
NGN is defending the article as true, and says Depp was “controlling and verbally and physically abusive towards Ms Heard, particularly when he was under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.”
The case, the biggest English libel trial of the 21st century, is due to finish next week with closing submissions from both sides’ legal teams on Monday and Tuesday.