Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Derek Tucker: Celebrity court cases are soul-destroying for everyone involved

Amber Heard (left) and Johnny Depp in court (Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/AP/Shutterstock)
Amber Heard (left) and Johnny Depp in court (Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/AP/Shutterstock)

If there’s one lesson I have painfully and unforgettably learnt from nearly 40 years working in the newspaper industry, it is that unnecessary litigation should be avoided at all costs, because the only winners are the lawyers.

One particularly expensive example of that arose when a prominent Aberdeen businessman sued this newspaper and me, as editor, over a report we had published which was critical of him. I believed, and all (yes, all) our lawyers agreed, that we were right and our case was bulletproof.

Come the day of the scheduled court case, the businessman withdrew his claim and agreed to pay our costs. Success. Or so we thought.

The euphoria at being proved right was short-lived once our costs were submitted and subjected to a process called taxation, whereby a legal accountant goes through the claim, line by line, striking out anything considered not absolutely essential.

The result? We were left £100,000 out of pocket. The ultimate pyrrhic victory. It was a sobering lesson.

The memories came flooding back last week, when I began to follow with interest the two separate libel trials taking place either side of the Atlantic, one involving actor Johnny Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard in America, and the other featuring footballers’ wives, Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney, in London.

Compulsive but desperately sad viewing

The salacious details emerging from both cases make fascinating reading and are clearly being lapped up by audiences worldwide, obsessed with so-called celebrity culture. Regardless of the outcome, however, none of the four combatants can win.

Johnny Depp’s previously stellar career already lay in ruins as a result of his recent failed action against the Sun newspaper, which called him a “wife beater”, an allegation the High Court in London found to be justified.

In 2020, Johnny Depp sued The Sun’s publisher News Group Newspapers and its executive editor Dan Wootton in a libel case (Photo: Yui Mok/PA Wire)

Far from cutting his losses, Depp is now in the throes of a similar action against Ms Heard, who claimed she had been subjected to domestic abuse, but did not name the alleged abuser.

Mr Depp and Ms Heard will no longer be remembered for their acting careers, merely as two seriously flawed individuals

The same shocking claims and counterclaims made in the earlier case are now being repeated, but with an additional aggravating factor. Unlike in the UK, TV cameras are allowed in American court rooms, and every minute of the proceedings is being viewed in homes the length and breadth of the world.

Mr Depp and Ms Heard will no longer be remembered for their acting careers, merely as two seriously flawed individuals seemingly determined to bring down each other, regardless of the financial and reputational cost. It may be compulsive viewing, but it is also desperately sad to watch.

Painting an unflattering self-portrait

Back in London, it is equally soul-destroying to witness two women, famous only because of whom they married, living out their privileged lives in the full glare of publicity.

At the time of writing, Ms Rooney’s evidence was still in its infancy, but Ms Vardy has been subjected to days of close questioning, during which she has openly admitted employing an agent to secure publicity for her.

Rebekah Vardy leaves the Royal Courts Of Justice in London (Photo: Yui Mok/PA)

Simply on the basis of what she has admitted or volunteered, it is clear that her life revolves around attempting to carve out a career for herself, using her husband’s football success as a stepping stone. Quite why she would wish to undermine that ambition by entering into an expensive and embarrassing court case based on a social media post by Ms Rooney is beyond me.

The offending post, in which Ms Rooney accused her of leaking stories to the media, would have been long forgotten had she not decided to keep it alive. Countless attempts were made to persuade her to drop the action. Even the judge, at a pre-trial hearing, advised her to try to settle out of court, but to no avail.

Should her action prove successful, I hope Ms Vardy feels that it justifies the unflattering picture of her which has now been painted.

Derek Tucker is a former editor of The Press and Journal

Already a subscriber? Sign in





Please enter the name you would like to appear on your comments. (It doesn’t have to be your real name - but nothing rude please, we are a polite bunch!) Use a combination of eight or more characters that includes an upper and lower case character, and a number.

By registering with [[site_name]] you agree to our Terms and Conditions and our Privacy Policy

Or sign up with

Facebook Google



Or login with

Forgotten your password? Reset it