Court told Heard was 'antagoniser' in relationship with Depp

Court told Heard was 'antagoniser' in relationship with Depp
Actress Amber Heard leaving the High Court in London for a hearing in Johnny Depp's libel case against the publishers of The Sun and its executive editor, Dan Wootton. Picture: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire

Amber Heard was the "antagoniser" in her relationship with Johnny Depp, often "goading" and attempting to provoke the actor, the UK High Court has heard.

The couple argued "like schoolchildren", with rows starting from "banal beginnings" before escalating, according to Mr Depp's former estate manager.

Ben King, who worked for the Hollywood star for three separate periods between 2014 and 2016, in Australia, London and Vancouver, Canada, also said in witness statements that Mr Depp, 57, often left notes with comments such as "let's not do this again" and "I love you".

Mr Depp is suing News Group Newspapers (NGN) and its executive editor Dan Wootton over an April 2018 Sun newspaper article which labelled him a "wife beater" and alleged he was violent towards ex-wife Amber Heard, 34, during their relationship.

In one written statement, Mr King said that during his employment he "frequently witnessed Ms Heard goading and attempting to provoke Mr Depp", adding he never saw the actor "be violent or unkind towards Ms Heard, or indeed towards anyone else".

In a second statement, he said: "Of what I heard of their arguments, they could start from very banal beginnings.

"On one occasion in London, I recall Ms Heard complained that Mr Depp had removed his hand from hers, and she complained along the lines of "maybe you don't love me" (because you took your hand away).

"The argument then carried on and escalated seriously. The way they argued could make them seem like schoolchildren.

"In hindsight, during the month in London, and thereafter during my time in Australia, I saw Ms Heard as the antagoniser.

"Mr Depp seemed keen to walk out of, or away from, arguments."

In his first witness statement, Mr King said that in March 2015, he was summoned to the house the couple were renting in Australia, where he found a "significant amount of damage" and discovered the actor's severed finger tip on the floor of the bar area while cleaning up broken glass and debris.

Mr Depp has been accused of subjecting Ms Heard to a "three-day hostage situation" and trashing the house during the Australia trip, which he denies.

The actor's finger was severed during the stay, which he says was caused by Ms Heard throwing a bottle at him, which she denies.

Mr King said that on the flight back to Los Angeles from Australia with Ms Heard, she asked him "have you ever been so angry with someone that you just lost it?"

He said: "I replied that that had never happened to me. She seemed incredulous and asked again, 'you have never been so angry with someone that you just lost it?'

"Again, I answered that I had not and Ms Heard did not continue on this topic. 

This question seemed alarming to me, given the severity of the damage I had earlier witnessed at the house and the apparent serious injury to Mr Depp's finger.

Separately, the court heard Ms Heard was “repeatedly” told it would be illegal for her to take her two dogs with her to Australia, a former Johnny Depp employee has claimed.

Kevin Murphy, who worked for Mr Depp for almost eight years, alleged Ms Heard "demanded" he make a false statement about the animals being "smuggled" into the country.

He also claimed Ms Heard asked him to contact her former assistant, Kate James, and ask her to "lie under oath" to an Australian court.

In October 2015, Ms Heard faced criminal proceedings in Australia for taking the couple's two Yorkshire Terriers, Pistol and Boo, into the country illegally.

She and Mr Depp, 57, recorded a now infamous video in 2016 apologising for doing so.

In a written witness statement, Mr Murphy, claimed on October 11 and 12, 2015, Ms Heard asked him to contact Ms James and "ask Ms James to lie under oath to the Australian court prosecuting Ms Heard".

He said: "Specifically, Ms Heard wanted Ms James to give a false statement that Ms Heard was unaware that it would be illegal for her to bring her dogs into Australia.

"Ms Heard was aware that this was illegal, because I had informed her repeatedly by email, telephone and in person."

Mr Murphy alleged he had told Ms Heard he was "uncomfortable" with giving a false statement to the court and that "he would not ask Ms James to do so".

Mr Murphy was asked by Sasha Wass QC, lead counsel for NGN, about the "defecation incident", when faeces were found in the couple's bed after Ms Heard's 30th birthday party in April 2016.

Ms Wass read out a text conversation between Ms Heard and Mr Murphy from October 2014, when he suggested putting Boo with a dog trainer.

Ms Heard replied: "I'm worried she's got brain damage. She can't seem to predict or control when she uses the bathroom.

"Last night she shit ON Johnny while he was sleeping, like all over him. Not exaggerating."

Mr Murphy said in his witness statement that when he spoke to Mr Depp about the "defecation incident" in April 2016, the actor was "sullen and disgusted".

Actor Johnny Depp arrives at the High Court in London to give evidence in his libel case against the publishers of The Sun and its executive editor, Dan Wootton. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Actor Johnny Depp arrives at the High Court in London to give evidence in his libel case against the publishers of The Sun and its executive editor, Dan Wootton. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

He said: "I believe he suggested getting the faeces DNA tested to see where they had come from."

Ms Wass read out two text messages sent by Mr Depp shortly after the incident, saying that in one, he wrote "my wife left a whopper poop on my bed" and "then he says 'Amber Turd'".

She said: "In fact, it appears from those texts that Mr Depp found the subject quite amusing," to which Mr Murphy said he thought the actor was being "sarcastic".

The Pirates Of The Caribbean star is suing NGN and Mr Wootton 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?"

NGN is defending the article as true, and says Mr Depp was "controlling and verbally and physically abusive towards Ms Heard, particularly when he was under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs".

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