Johnny Depp has asked for his defamation trial to be delayed while he films Fantastic Beasts 3

By Stephanie Rendall
Wednesday, 2nd September 2020, 12:59 pm
Updated Wednesday, 2nd September 2020, 12:59 pm
The actor is also currently suing the publisher of The Sun for libel in a separate case taking place in London. (Getty Images)

Johnny Depp has requested a delay to a defamation trial set to take place early in 2021, due to his upcoming role in Fantastic Beasts 3.

The defamation case came after the actor's ex-wife Amber Heard wrote an article in The Washington Post, that Depp claims suggested he was violent with her.

The actor was quick to respond to Heard's article,  filing a $50 million (£37.2 million) defamation suit against his ex wife back in March 2019, just three months after its publication.

Sign up to our daily Berwickshire News Today newsletter

A hearing is now set to be held on 11 September to decide the outcome of Mr Depp's request for a trial postponement.

The actor is also currently suing the publisher of The Sun for libel in a separate case taking place in London.

Why does he want the case postponed?

Due to delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the filming schedule for the latest Fantastic Beasts film has been extended into early 2021, meaning it will overlap with Depp's defamation suit.

This puts Depp in a tough spot, as he could potentially face liability for a breach of his Warner Bros contract if he fails to comply with the filming schedule.

He has now filed a motion requesting the court to postpone the trial until some point between March and June, 2021.

What did Amber Heard write in the Washington Post?

In December 2018, an article written by Heard appeared in The Washington Post with the headline, "I spoke up against sexual violence - and faced our culture's wrath. That has to change."

Heard's article urged institutions and society to be more protective of women who have been domestically or sexually abused.

In the article, Heard said she had become "a public figure representing domestic abuse" and added that has had the "rare vantage point of seeing, in real time, how institutions protect men accused of abuse".

However, the actress did not explicitly mention her ex husband by name in the article.

Despite this, Depp is still able to sue, due to laws where the the Washington Post is printed.

The newspaper is printed in the state of Virginia, where plaintiffs can file claims of defamation which have not only occurred explicitly, but also by inference, implication or insinuation.

Depp and Heard were married for 15 months before their split in 2016.

Heard has not yet commented on Depp's request for a delay.