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Text messages actor Johnny Depp allegedly sent about his ex-wife Amber Heard have been revealed during the latest stage of his libel case against The Sun. The case, which is due to go to trial later this month, sees Depp suing the publishers of The Sun and its executive editor Dan Wootton over an article headlined: ‘”Gone Potty How can JK Rowling be ‘genuinely happy’ casting wife-beater Johnny Depp in the new Fantastic Beasts film?’”. Depp has said he is seeking vindication over allegations that he was abusive to his ex-wife, actress Amber Heard.

At the pre-trial review hearing at the end of February, the High Court heard the details of texts that the Sun say were amongst 70,000 messages ‘accidentally’ released to them by Depp’s previous lawyers. Texts Depp allegedly sent to British actor Paul Bettany were read out in court, saying: ‘Let’s burn Amber’ and ‘Let’s drown her before we burn her!!! I will fuck her burnt corpse afterwards to make sure she is dead.’

In another text message, said to have been sent to Heard after an incident in which it is alleged Depp hit her, Depp referred to a ‘disco bloodbath and a hideous moment.’ Depp says the text was sent to ‘placate’ Heard. Depp strongly denies ever hitting Ms Heard. His barrister said that there is ‘no single smoking gun’ supporting the allegation that he was violent.

Depp’s lawyers referred to a recording in which Amber Heard is said to discuss being violent towards Mr Depp. Depp’s case is that Heard was ‘the aggressor’ in the relationship, not him. His barrister described the evidence on each side as ‘diametrically opposed’, saying that one party was lying, and on Depp’s case it is Ms Heard.

Unusually for an interim hearing, Depp was at court, sitting behind his lawyers in a dark blue suit and blue-tinted glasses.

Depp and Heard met on the set of The Rum Diary, in which they co-starred in 2011, and were married in 2015. In 2016 Heard obtained a restraining order against Depp after alleging that he had abused her, allegations which he denied. When the couple divorced they both signed non-disclosure agreements and issued a statement which included ‘Neither party has made false accusations for financial gain’ and ‘There was never any intent of physical or emotional harm.’

The Sun and Wootton are standing by the article, and a two week libel trial is due to start on 23 March 2020. Both Depp and Heard are expected to give evidence, with a number of other witnesses due to appear either in person or on video link from California. Lawyers for The Sun have also said that the trial will explore Mr Depp’s use of alcohol and drugs. Depp has brought separate libel proceedings against Heard in the United States over an article she wrote in the Washington Post. Those proceedings are also ongoing.