Johnny Depp has failed to stop his ex-wife Amber Heard from watching him give evidence in a lawsuit over domestic abuse allegations.
The actor sues the publisher of Sun, News Group Newspapers (NGN), and its executive editor, Dan Wootton, over a 2018 article that described Depp as a “frubeater”.
The article referred to claims by Heard, 37, that Depp physically abused her during their marriage. He denies these accusations.
The case will be heard in court on Tuesday, after a last-ditch attempt by NGN̵
Depp, 57, had tried to break the precedent for civil cases and outlaw her former partner, claiming that her evidence would be more reliable if she was not present in court when Depp was cross-examined.
In criminal cases, witnesses cannot be present in court while others provide evidence, but in civil cases this is possible.
However, in a court decision published on Saturday, Justice Nicol rejected the trial, stating that it would be “unfair” and “impede … their defense”.
While the judge acknowledged that Heard was “not a party”, he said the accused NGN and Wootton “rely heavily on the information Ms Heard can provide”.
“[Heard] will not be able to give instructions to (NGN’s lawyers), but she can provide information if the accused can choose to act, “he said.
“It is an advantage for the defendants that she can do so almost immediately during the course of Mr. Depp’s cross-examination and in my opinion it would be unfair for the defendants to rob them of that benefit.”
The rejection is the latest development in a protracted conflict between the Depp and Heard negotiations.
Last week, the higher court ruled that Depp had breached an order in the tort case by not disclosing texts that appear to show he was trying to buy drugs. NGN’s legal team asked Nicol to dismiss Depp’s claims because he had not provided them with “Australia’s drug texts”.
The messages were sent in early 2015, shortly before Heard claims she underwent “a three-day physical abuse trial” by Depp in Australia.
In late May, the Supreme Court also ruled that evidence from Heard’s former personal assistant could be part of Depp’s case in his allegations against NGN and Wootton, after former employees said she had never seen any signs of physical violence, but dismissed evidence from a mechanic who worked for the couple just before their divorce.