If you want to sue for libel, lie down for a bit

Tomorrow's Business

A huge result for The Sun in its battle with Johnny Depp, the biggest libel case this century, so some said.

He sued over allegations of domestic abuse. Much mud was thrown in all directions. Today the judge said he had not proven the case for libel (it does not automatically follow that he is a wife-beater; there’s a $50m court action against Depp’s former wife pending in the US, which he may or may not drop.)

The Sun said: “The Sun has stood up and campaigned for the victims of domestic abuse for over twenty years. Domestic abuse victims must never be silenced and we thank the Judge for his careful consideration and thank Amber Heard for her courage in giving evidence to the court.”

The case feels like a throwback.

Famous, ill-advised person decides to take on big news organisation which probably thought very carefully about what it had put in print and may even have been goading the famous person in the first place. Loses badly.

(The Sun won on truth here, though one does wonder if the result would have been different had the ruling been by a jury not a judge).

News groups are much less powerful than they used to be. But the best advice to anyone thinking of suing a newspaper for libel remains: lie down until the feeling passes.

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