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Johnny Depp blocked from appealing British judge's libel ruling, ordered to pay $840,000 in legal costs

Associated Press
Associated Press

LONDON — The British judge in Johnny Depp's losing libel case has refused him permission to appeal the ruling that he beat ex-wife Amber Heard, saddling the "Pirates of the Caribbean" actor with an $840,000 legal bill.

But under British civil law, Depp can still apply directly to the higher Court of Appeal, and has until Dec. 7 to do so.

USA TODAY reached out to members of Depp's legal team for comment. 

Depp was the loser earlier this month when Judge Andrew Nicol rejected Depp's claim that The Sun tabloid newspaper libeled him when it labeled him a "wife-beater" in a headline.

Johnny Depp arrives on the red carpet for the premiere of the film "Minamata" at the 70th Berlinale film festival in Berlin. Feb. 21, 2020.

Nicol said the article in The Sun was "substantially true," after the tabloid called Heard as its star witness to testify about more than a dozen episodes during which she said Depp abused her physically. 

Depp is seeking to overturn the judgment. In a ruling made public Wednesday, Nicol denied permission to appeal, saying "I do not consider that the proposed grounds of appeal have a reasonable prospect of success." 

More:Johnny Depp loses libel case against British tabloid that branded him a 'wife beater' to Amber Heard

The judge also ordered Depp to make an initial payment of more than $840,000 to News Group Newspapers, publisher of The Sun, to cover its legal fees.

Typically, the loser in British libel cases pays the winner's legal costs. 

Amber Heard filed for divorce on May 23, 2016, citing irreconcilable differences.

Depp lost his civil lawsuit after a three-week trial in which Depp and Heard gave conflicting and lurid accounts of their brief, volatile marriage.

More:Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard: All the nasty bits of the UK trial — and it's all nasty

In the wake of the decision, Depp said he was leaving the "Fantastic Beasts" film franchise after studio Warner Bros. requested his resignation.

Depp is also suing Heard for $50 million in Virginia over a 2018 Washington Post essay in which she claimed to be a victim of domestic violence. The essay talked about her experience being abused but does not name Depp. The trial is scheduled to be held in May.