A bombshell video which Johnny Depp’s lawyers say shows Amber Heard “assaulted” her sister was played to the High Court, as the Hollywood’s star’s blockbuster libel case against The Sun entered its final stages.
Ms Heard’s sister Whitney Henriquez was questioned on Friday over a video Mr Depp’s lawyers said was sent by an “anonymous source” on Thursday night, after Ms Henriquez gave evidence that her sister had never attacked her.
In a dramatic development on day 14 of the trial, the Hollywood star’s legal team claimed the video demonstrates Ms Henriquez was “lying” in her evidence and had “tailored” her testimony “to meet her sister’s evidence”.
The footage shows Ms Henriquez during the filming of a reality TV show, poolside with friends, with one person heard to say “did you get in a fight?” and then “I can’t believe Amber beat your ass”.
A woman then appears to inspect Ms Henriquez’ cheek and arm, as Ms Henriquez repeatedly says she is not going to talk about it.
Mr Depp’s barrister, David Sherborne, said the clip, which was not for broadcast, was filmed in 2006 or 2007.
At the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Mr 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 that Mr Depp’s legal team were “contacted to explain that Amber Heard had a history of violence and attacking people”.
Mr Sherborne said the credibility of Ms Henriquez – who claims to have witnessed Mr Depp, 57, punching Ms Heard, 34, “really hard in the head … multiple times” in March 2015 – is “critical”.
He added that that incident in Los Angeles, referred to as “the stairs incident” because Ms Heard says she feared Mr Depp would push her sister down the stairs, is “the only occasion on which any other human being is supposed to have witnessed” the actor being violent towards his ex-wife.
The trial judge Mr Justice Nicol ruled that Mr Depp’s lawyers could reopen Ms Henriquez’s cross-examination to ask her questions about the video.
Eleanor Laws QC, also representing Mr Depp, reminded Ms Henriquez that she gave evidence on Thursday that she had “only seen your sister hit Mr Depp once … in self-defence, and that your sister had never been violent or hit you”.
The barrister played the video to Ms Henriquez and said: “What you were being asked by the ladies on that clip was about a fight between you and your sister, wasn’t it?”
Ms Henriquez replied: “We were referencing a verbal argument my sister and I had got into the night before.”
She said her friends were “inferring, trying to make a storyline, albeit a bad one, interesting, nothing more”.
Ms Laws suggested: “You had had a physical fight with your sister where she got the better of you.”
Ms Henriquez replied: “Again, I didn’t want to bring a personal verbal argument on to a camera.”
The court has previously been told that Ms Heard punched Mr Depp in self-defence because she thought the actor was going to push Ms Henriquez down the stairs at their LA penthouse – based on a “rumour” she had heard that Mr Depp pushed his ex-girlfriend Kate Moss down a flight of stairs.
On Friday, the court also heard evidence from Ms Heard’s friend iO Tillett Wright, who said in his witness statement that Mr Depp joked about punching Ms Heard in the face after their wedding ceremony in the Bahamas.
Mr Tillett Wright said in his statement: “The first thing Johnny said to me after the ceremony, as we walked to the reception, was ‘now I can punch her in the face and no-one can do anything about it’.
“He probably intended it as a joke, but it is only a joke if it’s not real – and by then I knew he was hitting her.”
He also gave evidence from LA about the events of May 21 2016, when Ms Heard alleges Mr Depp threw her own mobile phone at her, hitting her in the face, before the actor damaged the apartment with a wine bottle.
Mr Tillett Wright, who heard parts of that incident over the phone from New York, denied being responsible for “leaking to the press” details of Ms Heard’s application for a domestic violence restraining order later in May 2016.
He told the court he later wrote an article about Ms Heard’s allegations for the Refinery29 website, “because the media was characterising her as a gold digger at that point”.
Mr Tillett Wright also said he wrote the piece because “no-one else was willing to go public at that point because they were afraid of retaliation from Mr Depp”.
He denied being responsible for the faeces which was left in the couple’s bed after Ms Heard’s 30th birthday party on April 21 2016, saying it was one of Mr Depp’s “generally paranoid delusions” which led the actor to believe it was him – and said it could not have been Ms Heard because she was “faecal phobic”.
The court also heard from Ms Heard’s friend Raquel “Rocky” Pennington, who said in her witness statement that she feared Mr Depp might “accidentally kill” Ms Heard.
Ms Pennington admitted she had never seen the actor “beat or hit” Ms Heard, but said she had seen “gashes on her arms” after her friend returned from Australia in March 2015, and injuries to her nose and scalp after an alleged incident in December 2015.
Giving evidence from LA, Ms Pennington also denied trashing the couple’s LA penthouse following a heated row in May 2016, after Mr Depp’s lawyers suggested she was one of those responsible for damage two LAPD officers who attended the apartment that night claim they did not see.
Ms Heard’s acting coach Kristina Sexton, who said in her statement that Ms Heard became a “nervous wreck” about choosing film roles because she was “so worried” about Mr Depp’s reaction, also gave evidence on Friday.
She said Ms Heard told her that Mr Depp lost the tip of his finger in Australia in March 2015, after he “cut himself” with a broken glass bottle.
Ms Heard, however, said on Thursday that Mr Depp lost the tip of his finger while smashing a phone “repeatedly, over and over again, into the wall”.
Mr Depp is suing The Sun’s publisher, News Group Newspapers (NGN), and its executive editor Dan Wootton, over an April 27 2018 article 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” Mr 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 Mr 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 NGN’s legal team on Monday and Mr Depp’s lawyers on Tuesday.
Mr Justice Nicol has said that his judgment will be reserved.