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Nine keys to Johnny Depp’s victory over Amber Heard | Culture

A seven-person jury reached a verdict on Wednesday in what may be the most-talked-about case since the trial of basketball star O. J. Simpson – the defamation battle between actor Johnny Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard.

After an intense six-week trial, which heard allegations of sexual assault and physical abuse, the jury ruled that both parties were guilty of defamation, but not to the same degree. While Heard was sentenced to pay Depp $15 million (€14 million) in damages, Depp must only pay Heard $2 million – a clear win for the Pirates of the Caribbean star. But this is just one element of the much-anticipated verdict. Here is a breakdown of the main keys to the jury’s decision.

1. The verdict

The jury had to decide whether or not six specific statements – three from each side – were defamatory. Depp was suing Heard over statements she made in an op-ed in The Washington Post, in which she claimed she was a victim of abuse. While Heard was suing the actor for comments made by Depp’s former lawyer, who accused the actress of lying.

The jury ruled that all three of Heard’s statements were defamatory, while only one comment from the lawyer was found to have been harmful.

During the trial, the Aquaman star claimed that her ex-husband had struck her and sexually assaulted her. The jury did not rule on whether or not this happened, but given that they found her statements to be defamatory, it can be inferred that they did not believe her testimony i.e. that she was not a victim of abuse. This gives Depp a moral victory, as well as $15 million in damages.

2. The sentence format

A court sentence must typically establish the facts and the legal basis for a verdict. But this was not the case for the Depp-Heard defamation battle as it was a civil suit, not a criminal trial. In order to reach a verdict, the jury was handed a special form and asked to answer a series of “yes” or “no” questions. If the jurors found a statement to be defamatory, they then had to specify how much compensatory and punitive damages to award.

Elaine Bredehoft, Amber Heard's lawyer, hugs the actress following the verdict.
Elaine Bredehoft, Amber Heard’s lawyer, hugs the actress following the verdict.EVELYN HOCKSTEIN (AP)

3. Amber Heard’s statements

The jury ruled that all three statements made by Heard in her op-ed were false and harmed Depp, meaning they were defamatory. These were the statements:

– “I spoke up against sexual violence – and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change.”

– “Then two years ago, I became a public figure representing domestic abuse, and I felt the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out.”

– “I had the rare vantage point of seeing, in real time, how institutions protect men accused of abuse.”

Despite the fact that Heard’s article did not mention Depp by name, the jury responded “yes” to the following three questions: “The statement was about Mr. Depp,” “The statement was false” and “The statement has a defamatory implication about Mr. Depp.”

4. Johnny Depp’s statements

With respect to Heard’s claim, the lawsuit focused on statements made by Depp’s former lawyer Adam Waldman in The Daily Mail. Although the actor did not make the comments, Heard argued that the lawyer said them on his behalf.

Of the three statements, this was the only one found to be defamatory:

– “Quite simply this was an ambush, a hoax. They set Mr. Depp up by calling the cops but the first attempt didn’t do the trick. The officers came to the penthouses, thoroughly searched and interviewed, and left after seeing no damage to face or property. So Amber and her friends spilled a little wine and roughed the place up, got their stories straight under the direction of a lawyer and publicists, and then placed a second call to 911.” (The Daily Mail, April 27, 2020).

Camille Vasquez and Benjamin Chew, Jonny Depp's attorneys, celebrate his victory.
Camille Vasquez and Benjamin Chew, Jonny Depp’s attorneys, celebrate his victory.EVELYN HOCKSTEIN (AP)

The jurors ruled that the other two did not were not defamatory:

– “Amber Heard and her friends in the media use fake sexual violence allegations as both a sword and a shield, depending on their needs. They have selected some of her sexual violence hoax ‘facts’ as the sword, inflicting them on the public and Mr. Depp.” (The Daily Mail, April 8, 2020).

– “[W]e have reached the beginning of the end of Ms. Heard’s abuse hoax against Johnny Depp.”(The Daily Mail, April 27, 2020).

In other words, the jury did not consider it defamatory to claim that Heard had made “fake” and “hoax” accusations about being the victim of sexual abuse. But it did think it was defamatory to say that she and her friends had “roughed up” a place to make it appear like a scene of violence.

5. Damages

Depp’s defamation lawsuit demanded $50 million (€47 million) in compensation. Heard countersued for $100 million (€93 million), although her lawyer stated this amount was only intended to “send a message” to the actor.

In both cases, the jury awarded a lower amount. Heard was sentenced to pay Depp $10 million in compensatory damages and another $5 million in punitive damages. However, legislation in the state of Virginia, where the trial was held, limits punitive damages to $350,000. As a result, the judge reduced the damages to a total of $10.35 million.

Depp, meanwhile, must pay Heard $2 million in compensatory damages. The jury did not award her any punitive damages, meaning the jury did not think the actor should be punished. This is another moral victory for Depp. Apparently, instead of putting a zero in the box for punitive damages, the jury left it blank, which caused a tense, minutes-long delay in the reading of the verdict.

Johnny Depp (r) on stage at a Jeff Beck concert in London.
Johnny Depp (r) on stage at a Jeff Beck concert in London.DPA vía Europa Press (Europa Press)

6. Johnny Depp’s reaction

Johnny Depp was not present in court when the verdict was read. He was in the United Kingdom. In the last few days, he has been performing with singer Jeff Beck at his concerts in Sheffield and London. But as soon as he learned of the verdict, he published a statement on his Instagram account:

“Six years ago, my life, the lives of my children, the lives of those closest to me, and also, the lives of the people, who for many, many years have supported and believed in me were forever changed.

All in the blink of an eye.

False, very serious and criminal allegations were levied at me via the media, which triggered an endless barrage of hateful content, although no charges were ever brought against me. It had already traveled around the world twice within a nanosecond and it had a seismic impact on my life and my career.

And six years later, the jury gave me my life back. I am truly humbled.

My decision to pursue this case, knowing very well the height of the legal hurdles I would be facing and the inevitable, worldwide spectacle into my life, was only made after considerable thought.

From the beginning, the goal of bringing this case was to reveal the truth, regardless of the outcome. Speaking the truth was something that I owed to my children and to all those who have remained steadfast in their support of me. I feel at peace knowing that I have finally accomplished that

I am, and have been, overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and the colossal support and kindness from around the world. I hope that my quest to have the truth be told will have helped others, men or women, who have found themselves in my situation, and that those supporting them never give up. I also hope that the position will now return to innocent until proven guilty, both within the courts and in the media.

I wish to acknowledge the noble work of the Judge, the jurors, the court staff and the Sheriffs who have sacrificed their own time to get to this point, and to my diligent and unwavering legal team who did an extraordinary job in helping me to share the truth.

The best is yet to come and a new chapter has finally begun.

Veritas numquam perit.

Truth never perishes.”

Amber Heard at the Fairfax courthouse.
Amber Heard at the Fairfax courthouse.EVELYN HOCKSTEIN (AP)

7. Amber Heard’s reaction

Amber Heard was present in the courtroom. She listened to the verdict with her head down, looking sad and serious as she tried to contain her emotions. Following the verdict, she posted a statement on Twitter:

“I’m heartbroken that the mountain of evidence still was not enough to stand up to the disproportionate power, influence, and sway of my ex-husband.

I’m even more disappointed with what this verdict means for other women. It is a setback. It sets back the clock to a time when a woman who spoke up and spoke out could be publicly shamed and humiliated. It sets back the idea that violence against women is to be taken seriously.

“The disappointment I feel today is beyond words. I am heartbroken that the mountain of evidence still was not enough to stand up to the disproportionate power, influence and sway of my ex-husband.

I’m even more disappointed with what this verdict means for other women. It is a setback. It sets back the clock to a time when a woman who spoke up and spoke out could be publicly shamed and humiliated. It sets back the idea that violence against women is to be taken seriously.

I believe Johnyy0s attorneys succeeded in getting the jury to overlook the key issue of Freedom of Speech and ignore evidence that was so conclusive that we won in the UK.

I’m sad I lost this case. But I am sadder still that I seem to have lost a right I thought I had as an American – to speak freely and openly.”

8. Likelihood of appeal

A spokesperson for Heard indicated on Wednesday that she plans to appeal the verdict before the Supreme Court of Virginia. Freedom of expression will continue to be Heard’s main legal argument. Although this argument did not sway a jury, it may be more effective with a panel of judges.

The trial took place in Fairfax County District court in Virginia. This location was chosen because The Washington Post is printed there and because the newspaper also has its digital servers in the town. But some lawyers argue that a court could conclude that the trial should not have taken place in Virginia, given that both Heard and Depp are based in California. In an extreme scenario, the trial may be repeated in California.

9. Trial by social media

As the jury followed the trial in Fairfax, footage from the courtroom was broadcast around the world. Even before the trial began, social media had already ruled in favor of Johnny Depp. Day after day, crowds of Johnny Depp fans gathered outside the courtroom to cheer the actor on, and boo Heard, who has also been vilified and humiliated on social media. The actress said she has even received numerous death threats.

Johnny Depp fans celebrate the verdict on Wednesday at the gates of the Fairfax courthouse.
Johnny Depp fans celebrate the verdict on Wednesday at the gates of the Fairfax courthouse.CRAIG HUDSON (AP)

The implications of the verdict and the trial by social media are of concern to the feminist movement. Heard’s defeat, regardless of whether her claims were real or fabricated, will make it difficult for other women to come forward. On the other hand, Depp’s huge support base indicates that the public is not willing to suspend the presumption of innocence.



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Culture

Top 10 Urban Property Hotspots

Bradford And Blackpool Lead The Pack

Bradford is the top urban property hotspot for the second consecutive quarter, exclusive data from OnTheMarket reveals.

A combination of affordable house prices and growing number of buyers being priced out of nearby Leeds is helping lift Bradford’s property market, OnTheMarket said.

Speaking to This is Money, Robert McCarthy, manager of Hunters estate agency in Bradford, said buyers were attracted to the area because properties are ‘dirt cheap.’

Hotspots: Bradford is the top urban property hotspot for the second consecutive quarter, data reveals
Hotspots: Bradford is the top urban property hotspot for the second consecutive quarter, data reveals

He said: ‘Bradford is seeing a high increase in first time buyers and investors, with properties ranging from around £70,000 for a two bedroomed terrace, £110,000-£130,000 for a three to four bedroom terrace and £120,000 to £240,000 for a three bedroom semi-detached or detached property.

‘This gives a buyer much more for their money, while keeping the mortgage payments lower.’

He added: ‘This week we had a three bedroom semi-detached property go on the market needing some work at £100,000.

‘We we had over 90 requests to view, with some buyers offering before a viewing at well over the asking price.

‘I personally bought a three bedroom semi-detached renovation project in the area with a large garden for £51,000 a few years ago.

‘Now fully renovated, if I was selling to put it on the market it would be around £180,000 to £190,000.’

Mr McCarthy told This is Money that it was possible to buy a one or two bedroom flat in the centre of Bradford for between £20,000 to £60,000.

Urban property hotspots

Blackpool, Rochdale and Plymouth came in second, third and fourth place respectively in OnTheMarket’s latest rankings, with Rochdale climbing from 23rd to third place.

As cities like Manchester become increasingly expensive, Rochdale has ballooned in popularity with buyers.

Andrew Cardwell, manging director of Cardwells Estate Agents, said he wasn’t surprised about Rochdale’s colossal climb in the rankings.

Ample space: The property in Bradford is link detached and perfect for families
Ample space: The property in Bradford is link detached and perfect for families
Time to eat: The dining room in this Bradford property is chic and modern

Time to eat: The dining room in this Bradford property is chic and modern

Outdoor space: the property has a low maintenance garden perfect for entertaining
Outdoor space: the property has a low maintenance garden perfect for entertaining

He said: ‘Earlier this year Rochdale was recognised as one of the most affordable places to buy a property, with an average house price of around £206,000.

‘As well as offering excellent value for money, it’s within easy reach of Manchester city centre and has beautiful countryside.’

Plymouth jumped from 22nd to fourth place in the rankings. It is the only southern location to make it to the top five, OnTheMarket said.

Plymouth is home to HMNB Devonport, the largest naval base in western Europe and the city is brimming with shops and restaurants.

Jacob Tebb, president of OnTheMarket, told This is Money: ‘Property buying decisions continue to be heavily influenced by affordability, according to our latest hotspots index, which reveals that some of the most active or “hottest” areas also offer buyers the best value.”

He added: ‘Overall, the north/south divide is holding firm, with some of the most vibrant and cheapest locations in the north seeing the most heat in terms of housing market activity and only one southern location making it into the top ten.’

Leicester, Stoke-on-Trent, Swindon, Sunderland, Wakefield and Derby also made it to the top ten, while Middlesborough, Burnley and Coventry were just outside the top 10.

Wakefield rose from thirtieth to ninth place, while Birmingham climbed from forty-third to twenty-third place.

Where is the market cooling? Urban property hotspots

OnTheMarket added: ‘Moving in the other direction, demand in Wigan cooled significantly, dropping from second to fifteenth place in our rankings, while Liverpool has fallen from eleventh place in the first quarter to thirtieth.

‘Worthing, one of the few southern locations to be considered a hotspot, fell from twentieth to fifty-third place. The “coolest” hotspot on our list is Brighton.’

The average price of a house in Brighton and Hove was £422,000 in April, according to the Office for National Statistics. Its coastal location and proximity to London makes it popular but expensive with buyers.

Activity in Gloucester, Norwich and Warrington is also cooling, OnTheMarket said.

How is the London property market faring?

OnTheMarket crunched separate data for the London property market. The data suggested there has been ‘less fluctuation nationally and very little movement’, On The Market said.

Within the London-focused rankings, Barking and Dagenham, Havering, Sutton, Redbridge and Newham comprised the top five, followed by Bexley, Hillingdon and Enfield. Hounslow and Croydon also made it to the top 10.

However, Hounslow dropped out of the top five London hotspots in the quarter, while Lambeth, Southwark and Merton all fell four places.

In the last few years, higher mortgage rates have put a dampener on the property market. However, the Bank of England is expected to cut interest rates this summer and some banks and building societies have already started trimming rates on their mortgage deals.

Barclays recently upped the ante in the mortgage price war currently playing out between banks and building societies.

The mortgage lender cut rates by up to 0.33 percentage points across a wide range of deals for both homebuyers and those remortgaging, resulting in several new best-buys.

Halifax also announced it was cutting mortgage rates by up to 0.13 percentage points on selected deals.

What’s on sale now?

1. Three-bed semi-detached house, Bradford, £190,000

This three-bedroom semi-detached house at Hopefield Way, Bierley in Bradford, is on sale via Hunters estate agency for £190,000.

It has a light and airy living room and a spacious kitchen-diner. The property has gardens at the front and rear and comes with one driveway parking space.

Bargain: This three-bed semi-detached home on sale via Hunters could be yours for £190,000
Bargain: This three-bed semi-detached home on sale via Hunters could be yours for £190,000
Chill time: The semi-detached house in Hopefield Way, Bierley, is light and airy inside
Chill time: The semi-detached house in Hopefield Way, Bierley, is light and airy inside
Culinary delights: The Bradford property comes equipped with a spacious kitchen-diner
Culinary delights: The Bradford property comes equipped with a spacious kitchen-diner
Relax: One of the three bedrooms on offer at the property in Bradford
Relax: One of the three bedrooms on offer at the property in Bradford

2. Two-bed flat, Plymouth, £220,000

Plush: This spacious two-bed flat in Plymouth is on sale via Julian Marks for £220,000
Plush: This spacious two-bed flat in Plymouth is on sale via Julian Marks for £220,000
Features: The period features at the two-bed flat in Plymouth are clear to see
Features: The period features at the two-bed flat in Plymouth are clear to see
All the mod cons: The Plymouth flat comes equipped with a newly fitted pristine kitchen
All the mod cons: The Plymouth flat comes equipped with a newly fitted pristine kitchen
Space: The Plymouth flat has a small private garden and communal grounds
Space: The Plymouth flat has a small private garden and communal grounds

This two-bedroom ground floor flat on sale via Julian Marks is set in a substantial end of terrace late Victorian-era property and is listed for £220,000.

The newly fitted kitchen is modern and stylish, and elsewhere charming period features have been retained.

The property has been owned by the same people since 1994 and comes with use of a small private garden, as well as a communal garden.

3. Four-bed house, Rochdale, £325,000

Ideal: This four-bed detached house on sale via Hunters could be yours for £325,000
Ideal: This four-bed detached house on sale via Hunters could be yours for £325,000
Family hub: The living room in this Rochdale property is spacious and calming
Family hub: The living room in this Rochdale property is spacious and calming
Ready to go: The property in Milnrow, Rochdale, is in turn key condition
Ready to go: The property in Milnrow, Rochdale, is in turn key condition

This four-bedroom detached property located in Milnrow, Rochdale, is on sale via Hunters for £325,000.

The house is in mint condition throughout with light and airy rooms. A family could move straight into this home without needing to lift a finger. There’s off-road parking, a single garage and gardens to the front and rear.

It’s an ideal property for a growing family.


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Culture

Assessing Property Size: What Square Footage Can You Get With The Average UK House Price In Your Area?

Assessing Property Size In The UK

In the United Kingdom, there is a prevailing tendency to gauge the size of residences based on the number of bedrooms rather than square footage. In fact, research indicates that three out of five individuals are unaware of the square footage of their property.

However, a comprehensive analysis conducted by ‘Savills’ reveals significant variations in property sizes throughout the country. For instance, with the average property price standing at £340,837, this amount would typically afford a studio flat spanning 551 square feet in London, according to the prominent estate agency.

Conversely, in the North East region, the same sum would secure a spacious five-bedroom house measuring 1,955 square feet, nearly four times the size of a comparable property in London.

Best value: Heading to the North East of England is where buyers will get the most from their money

In Scotland, the median house price equates to a sizable investment capable of procuring a generous four-bedroom residence spanning 1,743 square feet. Conversely, in Wales, Yorkshire & The Humber, and the North West, this sum affords a slightly smaller four-bedroom dwelling of approximately 1,500 square feet, while in the East and West Midlands, it accommodates a 1,300 square foot home. In stark contrast, within the South West, £340,837 secures a modest 1,000 square foot property, and in the East, an even more confined 928 square feet.

London presents the most challenging market, where this budget offers the least purchasing power. Following closely, the South East allows for 825 square feet of space or a medium-sized two-bedroom dwelling. Lucian Cook, head of residential research at Savills, emphasizes the profound disparity in purchasing potential across Britain, ranging from compact studio flats in London to spacious four or five-bedroom residences in parts of North East England.

While square footage serves as a critical metric, with a significant portion of Britons unfamiliar with their property’s dimensions, the number of bedrooms remains a traditional indicator of size. Personal preferences, such as a preference for larger kitchens, may influence property selection. For those prioritizing ample space, Easington, County Durham, offers a substantial 2,858 square foot, five-bedroom home, while Rhondda, Wales, and Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Scotland, provide 2,625 and 2,551 square feet, respectively. Conversely, in St Albans, Hertfordshire, £340,837 secures a mere 547 square feet, equivalent to a one-bedroom flat.

The disparity continues in central London, where purchasing power diminishes considerably. In Kensington, the budget accommodates a mere 220 square feet, contrasting with the slightly more spacious 236 square feet in Westminster. Conversely, in Dagenham, the same investment translates to 770 square feet. Three properties currently listed on Rightmove exemplify the diversity within this price range across the UK market.

South of the river: This semi-detached house is located near to three different train stations

South of the river: This semi-detached house is located near to three different train stations

2. Lewisham: One-bed house, £345,000

This one-bedroom property in Lewisham, South London, is on the market for £345,000.

The semi-detached house is set over two floors, and has a private patio.

The property is located near to bus links and amenities, as well as Catford train station.

Edinburgh fringe: This three-bed property is located on the edge of the city, near to the town of Musselburgh

Edinburgh fringe: This three-bed property is located on the edge of the city, near to the town of Musselburgh

3. Edinburgh: Three-bed house, £350,000

This three-bedroom detached house in Edinburgh could be yours for £350,000.

The house, which has a two-car driveway, boasts a large kitchen diner, and is within easy reach of Newcriaghall train station.


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Culture

Top 10 Florida Cities Dominate The Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

Top 10 Florida Cities And Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

The Voice Of EU | Florida emerges as a hub for entrepreneurial endeavors, with its vibrant business landscape and conducive environment for startups. Renowned for its low corporate tax rates and a high concentration of investors, the Sunshine State beckons aspiring entrepreneurs seeking fertile grounds to launch and grow their businesses.

In a recent report by WalletHub, Florida cities dominate the list of the top 10 best destinations for business startups, showcasing their resilience and economic vitality amidst challenging times.

From Orlando’s thriving market to Miami’s dynamic ecosystem, each city offers unique advantages and opportunities for entrepreneurial success. Let’s delve into the chronologically listed cities that exemplify Florida’s prominence in the business startup arena.

1. Orlando Leads the Way: Orlando emerges as the most attractive market in the U.S. for business startups, with a remarkable surge in small business establishments. WalletHub’s latest report highlights Orlando’s robust ecosystem, fostering the survival and growth of startups, buoyed by a high concentration of investors per capita.

2. Tampa Takes Second Place: Securing the second spot among large cities for business startups, Tampa boasts a favorable business environment attributed to its low corporate tax rates. The city’s ample investor presence further fortifies startups, providing essential resources for navigating the initial years of business operations.

3. Charlotte’s Diverse Industries: Claiming the third position, Charlotte stands out for its diverse industrial landscape and exceptionally low corporate taxes, enticing companies to reinvest capital. This conducive environment propels entrepreneurial endeavors, contributing to sustained economic growth.

4. Jacksonville’s Rising Profile: Jacksonville emerges as a promising destination for startups, bolstered by its favorable business climate. The city’s strategic positioning fosters entrepreneurial ventures, attracting aspiring business owners seeking growth opportunities.

5. Miami’s Entrepreneurial Hub: Miami solidifies its position as a thriving entrepreneurial hub, attracting businesses with its dynamic ecosystem and strategic location. The city’s vibrant startup culture and supportive infrastructure make it an appealing destination for ventures of all sizes.

6. Atlanta’s Economic Momentum: Atlanta’s ascent in the business startup landscape underscores its economic momentum and favorable business conditions. The city’s strategic advantages and conducive policies provide a fertile ground for entrepreneurial ventures to flourish.

7. Fort Worth’s Business-Friendly Environment: Fort Worth emerges as a prime destination for startups, offering a business-friendly environment characterized by low corporate taxes. The city’s supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives facilitate the growth and success of new ventures.

8. Austin’s Innovation Hub: Austin cements its status as an innovation hub, attracting startups with its vibrant entrepreneurial community and progressive policies. The city’s robust infrastructure and access to capital foster a conducive environment for business growth and innovation.

9. Durham’s Emerging Entrepreneurship Scene: Durham’s burgeoning entrepreneurship scene positions it as a promising destination for startups, fueled by its supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives. The city’s collaborative culture and access to resources contribute to the success of new ventures.

10. St. Petersburg’s Thriving Business Community: St. Petersburg rounds off the top 10 with its thriving business community and supportive ecosystem for startups. The city’s strategic advantages and favorable business climate make it an attractive destination for entrepreneurial endeavors.

Despite unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Great Resignation, and high inflation, these top Florida cities remain resilient and well-equipped to overcome obstacles, offering promising opportunities for business owners and entrepreneurs alike.


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