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Winona Ryder and Vanessa Paradis said Johnny Depp was never violent to them

UK News | Published:

Statements from the actor’s former partners were released on the eighth day of his libel claim against News Group Newspapers.

Johnny Depp

Two of Johnny Depp’s former partners, Winona Ryder and Vanessa Paradis, have said he was never violent to them in statements provided in support of the actor’s libel claim against the publisher of The Sun.

The Hollywood star, 57, is suing News Group Newspapers (NGN) and the tabloid’s executive editor, Dan Wootton, over an April 2018 article which referred to him as a “wife beater” and alleged that he had been violent and abusive towards his ex-wife, actress Amber Heard, 34, during their tempestuous relationship.

Ms Paradis’ and Ms Ryder’s statements were released on Thursday, the eighth day of the trial, which is being heard by a judge at the High Court in London.

In her statement, provided in advance of the trial, Ms Paradis, 47, with whom the actor has two children, said: “I work as a musician, singer-songwriter, actress, and fashion model.

“I have known Johnny for more than 25 years. We’ve been partners for 14 years and we raised our two children together.

“Through all these years I’ve known Johnny to be a kind, attentive, generous and non-violent person and father.

“On movie sets the actors, directors and entire crews adore him because he is humble and respectful to everyone, as well as being one of the best actors we’ve seen.”

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Ms Paradis’ statement continued: “I am aware of the allegations which Amber Heard has publicly accused Johnny of for more than four years now.

“This is nothing like the true Johnny I have known, and, from my personal experience of many years, I can say he was never violent or abusive to me.

Depp and Paradis
Actor Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis had two children together (Ian West/PA)

“I have seen that these outrageous statements have been really distressing, and also caused damage to his career because unfortunately people have gone on believing these false facts.

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“This is so upsetting as he has helped so many persons in his personal and professional life, with kindness and generosity.”

Ms Ryder, 48, who was engaged to Mr Depp in the 1990s, said in her statement: “I am aware of the violence allegations that have been made publicly for the last few years by Johnny Depp’s ex-wife, Amber Heard.

“I knew Johnny very well years ago. We were together as a couple for four years, and I counted him as my best friend, and as close to me as family.

“I count our relationship as one of the more significant relationships of my life.

“I understand that it is very important that I speak from my own experience, as I obviously was not there during his marriage to Amber, but, from my experience, which was so wildly different, I was absolutely shocked, confused and upset when I heard the accusations against him.”

The Stranger Things actress, who starred with Mr Depp in the 1990 Tim Burton-directed film Edward Scissorhands, continued: “The idea that he is an incredibly violent person is the farthest thing from the Johnny I knew and loved.

“I cannot wrap my head around these accusations. He was never, never violent towards me. He was never, never abusive at all towards me. He has never been violent or abusive towards anybody I have seen.

Johnny Depp libel trial
Winona Ryder was due to give evidence in support of Johnny Depp’s libel claim against The Sun (Yui Mok/PA)

“I truly and honestly only know him as a really good man – an incredibly loving, extremely caring guy who was so very protective of me and the people that he loves, and I felt so very, very safe with him.

“I do not want to call anyone a liar but, from my experience of Johnny, it is impossible to believe that such horrific allegations are true. I find it extremely upsetting, knowing him as I do.”

Ms Paradis and Ms Ryder were set to appear via video-link from their respective homes in France, but Mr Depp’s legal team decided not to call them.

The actor’s barrister, David Sherborne, told the court it was now the extent of NGN’s defence case that Mr Depp was not violent more generally, but only to Ms Heard, and there was therefore no need to call the actresses to give evidence.

Sasha Wass QC, representing NGN, said the publisher’s legal team would have wanted to cross-examine Ms Paradis and Ms Ryder, but could not if they were no longer to be called as witnesses.

The witness statements of both women were released to the media following a successful application by the PA news agency.

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?”.

His lawyers say the article bore the meaning that there was “overwhelming evidence” that Mr Depp assaulted Ms Heard on a number of occasions and left her “in fear for her life”.

Ms Heard claims that, during an incident in Australia, she was subjected to a “three-day hostage situation” during which Mr Depp drank to excess and took pills.

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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