Johnny Depp accused Amber Heard of ‘haymakering’ him when they met in a hotel shortly after his ex-wife had obtained a restraining order against him, according to a secret recording revealed in court today.
Depp, 57, continued to give evidence at the High Court in London today as his blockbuster libel case continues over allegations of domestic violence by Heard, 34. He is suing The Sun publisher News Group Newspapers and its executive editor Dan Wootton over an article in April 2018 which labelled him a ‘wife beater’.
The actor is said to have attacked Heard throughout their tempestuous relationship, which has been described as ‘a crime scene waiting to happen’, and put her in fear for her life – claims he says are ‘a choreographed hoax’.
He also spoke about an argument after Heard’s 30th birthday party, which he attended after a ‘bad meeting’ with his new business manager which revealed he had lost $650million after it was ‘stolen’ by his previous managers.
Depp also admitted today that his forehead ‘may have clashed’ with Heard’s when he was trying to ‘grab her arms’ to stop her hitting him – but denied intending to headbutt her. He also said he could not have grabbed Heard by the head and punched her in the face because he was wearing a cast with a ‘little dinosaur’ on his broken finger.
It comes as the Royal Courts of Justice also heard:
- Depp was asked if he ‘invented’ his version of events that he accidentally headbutted Heard
- A nurse’s notes revealed Heard was ‘dishevelled’ and had ‘visible bright red blood’ on her lip
- Heard’s father David sent Depp a text message saying he knew his daughter needed help
- Depp said smoking cannabis is a ‘calming agent’ for him and wouldn’t put him in a rage
- Heard told a nurse she was angry with Depp because he was late to her party
The former couple were both photographed arriving separately at the court in London this morning, while Heard was also pictured leaving Ham Yard Hotel in Soho, where she is staying while legal proceedings continue.
Meanwhile Depp’s former fiancée Winona Ryder, who starred with him in the 1991 film Edward Scissorhands, is set to tell the court via videolink later this week that he was never abusive or violent to her.
Johnny Depp (left) and Amber Heard (right) are pictured this morning outside the High Court in London as the Hollywood actor’s blockbuster libel case over allegations of domestic violence continues
Pirates of the Caribbean star Depp began his fifth day of evidence in the case by being asked about an alleged incident of domestic violence against Heard shortly after he lost the top of his middle finger in Australia.
Depp says he could not have grabbed Heard by the head because he was wearing a cast
Depp’s barrister David Sherborne asked Depp about an alleged incident in Los Angeles on March 23, 2015, when he is said to have grabbed Heard by the hair with one hand and hit her ‘repeatedly in the head with the other’.
Depp said: ‘I flew back from Australia to LA to have surgery on the finger and, at that time, they had put a pin in it, in the broken bone, the fractured bone, but to no avail.’ He said he ‘ended up getting MRSA, it’s quite a painful disease’.
Depp explained he was wearing a cast on his hand with a ‘little dinosaur’ on it because he had decided if he was going to have to wear one he should have the children’s ‘wraparound’ on it as it was ‘more fun’.
The actor confirmed he was wearing the cast at the time of the alleged incident in the Eastern Columbia building. Mr Sherborne asked: ‘And with that cast on, would you have been able to grab her hair with one hand and punch her repeatedly with the other?’ Depp replied: ‘No sir.’
Mr Sherborne then asked Depp about an alleged incident during the couple’s honeymoon in July 2015 on a train in South East Asia. Depp confirmed that he and Heard were accompanied by security guard Malcolm Connolly for the entire trip, and said they ‘became quite friendly’ with the railway staff.
Amber Heard is pictured leaving Ham Yard Hotel in London’s Soho today where she is staying as legal proceedings continue
Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder in Los Angeles in September 1990. Ryder is due to give evidence via videolink on Wednesday
He said the staff accommodated them by putting them in a separate dining car to avoid people taking photos of them during meals, and that Mr Connolly was always present in that car. Mr Sherborne asked: ‘Were you violent at all to Ms Heard during that train journey?’. To which the actor replied: ‘No, not at all.’
Elon Musk and NOT Johnny Depp may have given Amber Heard cuts and bruises during affair as her marriage to the actor crumbled, suggests penthouse concierge in bombshell claims
Elon Musk and not Johnny Depp may have given Amber Heard cuts and bruises to her face during an affair as her marriage to the Hollywood actor crumbled, building staff at the former couple’s LA penthouse have suggested.
The sensational allegations have been made by two members of staff who worked at the apartment block where Depp lived with ex-wife Heard in a penthouse on the 13th floor.
Elon Musk visited Amber Heard ‘night after night’ in 2016 as her marriage to Depp collapsed, according to a concierge who works in the building where the actor had a penthouse
In sworn video statements Alejandro Romero and Trinity Esparza say they saw no injuries to Heard’s face after Depp allegedly threw a mobile phone at her ‘like a baseball pitcher’ during a blazing row on May 21.
Ms Esparza, who owned the concierge company at the exclusive Eastern Columbia Building, said she saw Heard throughout the week after the alleged phone-hurling assault and the actress — who wore no make-up — showed neither bruises nor cuts.
Then, on Friday, May 27 she ‘had a red cut underneath her right eye and red marks by her eye’.
Ms Esparza also alleges that on June 4 – two weeks after Depp left the penthouse – she saw Heard with further injuries; a bruise on her left check and two on either side of her neck in the shape of fingers and ‘little less than quarters in size.’
When asked by Depp’s legal team, where Depp was during this period, she replied: ‘Out of the country.’
She is then asked who Heard had been ‘interacting over this time Ms Esparza replied: ‘Elon Musk.’
When asked if there was anybody else, she replied: ‘No.’
Adam Waldman, Depp’s lawyer, said: ‘Johnny Depp left the country after Ms Heard’s most notorious abuse hoax where she claimed he threw a phone into her right eye. Yet two weeks later, the head concierge at the building testified she saw Ms Heard with a bruise under her other eye, finger shaped bruises on her throat and a bandaged arm.
‘It was Elon Musk who had been coming up to Mr Depp’s penthouse during his two-week absence.’
Mr Romero, the building’s security officer, says Musk visited Heard late at night ‘several times a week’ while Depp was away from home filming prompting staff at the building to speculate that they were having an affair.
He also claims that the tech billionaire Musk usually arrived at around 11pm and would not leave by the time his shift finished at 1am.
When asked if Depp was at home during Musk’s visits, Mr Romero replied: ‘No.’
Mr Romero’s and Ms Esparza’s dramatic testimony is due to be heard at the High Court this week as part of Depp’s libel claim against the Sun newspaper over allegations that he was violent towards his ex-wife. It will be delivered via videolink with both in Los Angeles.
Depp says his forehead ‘may have clashed’ with Heard’s when he was trying to ‘grab her arms’
Mr Sherborne continued by asking about an alleged incident at the couple’s LA penthouse on December 15, 2015, which the court heard was ‘the night before Ms Heard was due to be filming for an appearance on the James Corden show, The Late Late Show’.
The barrister said Depp is alleged to have inflicted ‘a litany of violence’ on Heard on that occasion, before the actor is said to have headbutted his ex-wife.
Mr Sherborne said Depp’s evidence was that ‘your foreheads may have clashed’ when the actor was trying to ‘grab her arms’ to prevent her hitting him. Depp explained that he grabbed Heard to ‘lock her arms’ to stop her attacking him.
Mr Sherborne asked: ‘Were you violent to Ms Heard in any way?’ Mr Depp replied: ‘No, sir.’ Mr Sherborne asked: ‘Did you intend to headbutt her?’ The actor said: ‘Not at all.’
Mr Sherborne asked: ‘Did you deliberately strike her nose causing it to be ‘bashed up’, I think is her (Ms Heard’s) phrase?’ Mr Depp replied: ‘No, sir.’
Depp is asked if he ‘invented’ his version of events that he accidentally headbutted Heard
Mr Sherborne then referred to a recording of a conversation between Depp and Heard, made without the actor’s knowledge, when they met in a San Francisco hotel room in July 2016, shortly after Heard had obtained a restraining order.
The recording refers to the ‘headbutt’ incident in December 2015, in which Mr Depp can be heard to say: ‘I headbutted you in the f******… forehead. That doesn’t break a nose.’
The barrister asked if ‘Ms Heard asked for’ the meeting, to which Mr Depp said: ‘That’s correct.’ Mr Sherborne then asked: ‘Do you remember in the restraining order how far it said you need to keep away from Ms Heard?’
Mr Depp replied: ‘I believe it was something like 150 feet.’
Mr Sherborne referred to the suggestion by Sasha Wass QC, representing News Group Newspapers (NGN), that Depp had ‘invented’ his version of events that he had accidentally headbutted his ex-wife. The barrister asked if ‘you have invented this (account) since December 2019’? Mr Depp replied: ‘Certainly not, no.’
Mr Sherborne later referred again to the ‘secret recording’ of Depp and Heard’s meeting in San Francisco in July 2016, in which Depp can be heard to say ‘you f****** haymakered me, man’.
The actor also says to Heard that ‘you came around the bed to f****** start punching on me’, the court heard.
The barrister asked what a ‘haymaker’ was, to which Depp replied: ‘It’s just a type of wild swinging… kind of a roundhouse punch, as it were. It’s a bit of a wild swing, but effective if it reaches the target.’
Nurse’s notes reveal Heard was ‘dishevelled’ and had ‘visible bright red blood’ on her lip
Mr Sherborne referred to notes of nurse Erin Boerum who had discussed the alleged incident with Heard in the aftermath.
The barrister said Ms Boerum was a friend of Heard, who attended her birthday party and had seen the actress on December 17 while delivering medication.
The nurse said Heard was ‘dishevelled’ and had ‘visible bright red blood’ on her lip, which she told Ms Boerum was from the injury sustained in the argument.
Ms Boerum also examined Heard’s face and scalp and said she was unable to see bruises or clumps of hair missing.
Mr Sherborne then asked Depp to explain part of his evidence about Heard suffering chapped lips.
The actor replied: ‘It was normal that she had pretty dry lips, she she was constantly using lip balm and… she would pick the dryness, the dry skin.
Mr Sherborne said: ‘And what would happen when she did that?’ To which Depp replied: ‘Well just like anything, it would bleed if you are pulling the scab off.’
Heard’s father David sent Depp a text message saying he knew his daughter needed help
Depp was then asked in court about a text message he received from Heard’s father, David Heard, in the aftermath of the alleged incident, in which he said he knew his daughter needed help with her temper, as the actor did for his problems with drink and drugs.
In the text, Mr Heard also wrote: ‘But I still love you like a father or brother.’
Photographs show bruising across the bridge of Heard’s nose and under her eyes after Depp allegedly headbutted her in 2015
Photos after the incident in December 2015 show bruising to Heard’s face after Depp allegedly headbutted her
David Sherborne asked: ‘If Lily-Rose… if your daughter told you that her husband had slapped her repeatedly, punched her, deliberately smacked her in the nose, grabbed her by the hair, dragged her upstairs by the hair, pulled chunks of her hair out, would you still send a text to him saying ‘I love you like a brother or father’?’
Depp replied: ‘Definitely not.’
Depp reveals he was in a bad mood after just discovering he had lost $650million
Mr Sherborne then asked about an argument after Heard’s 30th birthday party at the couple’s LA penthouse on April 21 2016, which the actor attended after a ‘bad meeting’ with his new business manager.
Depp said: ‘I was in the early stage of learning from my recently acquired new business manager that the former business managers had (taken) quite a lot of my money. They had stolen my money.’
Mr Sherborne asked: ‘How much money had they taken from you?’
The actor replied: ‘It was put to me this way, because I had no idea about money or amounts of money.
‘Since Pirates (Of The Caribbean) 2 and 3, I had – and this is ludicrous to have to state, it’s quite embarrassing – apparently I had made $650million (£510 million) and when I sacked them, for the right reasons, I had not only lost $650million, but I was $100million in the hole because they (the previous business managers) had not paid the government my taxes for 17 years.’
Mr Sherborne said: ‘So, as you said, a bad meeting.’ Depp replied: ‘Very unpleasant and ugly, yes.’
Depp says smoking cannabis is a ‘calming agent’ for him and wouldn’t put him in a rage
Depp was asked if he had smoked any cannabis between leaving the meeting with his new business manager and attending Heard’s birthday party.
The actor said: ‘It is possible that from the meeting, which was in my office in the conference room, that on my way down to Ms Heard’s dinner, it is possible that I would have smoked some cannabis in the car on the way.’
Mr Sherborne asked: ‘If you had smoked some cannabis, what effect would it have had on you?’ The barrister asked if smoking cannabis would have put him ‘in a rage’. Depp replied: ‘No, it’s a calming agent for me.’
Heard tells nurse she was angry with Depp because he was late to her party
Mr Sherborne then referred to notes taken by nurse Ms Boerum, who attended Heard’s party on April 21, 2016.
Her notes read that Heard ‘appeared irritable and upset, she reports being angry with her husband because he’s late’.
The notes continued that ‘JD arrives at 10.15pm… appears in good spirits’, that the actor was ‘coherent… and sociable’ and that the couple ‘appeared affectionate to one another’ during the dinner.
Mr Sherborne asked: ‘Does that accord with your recollection?’ Depp said: ‘Yes, sir.’
Depp’s ex-fiancée Winona Ryder will tell court he was never abusive or violent to her
Meanwhile Depp’s former fiancée Winona Ryder, who starred with him in the 1991 film Edward Scissorhands, is set to tell the court later this week that he was never abusive or violent to her.
Ryder, who is due to give evidence via videolink on Wednesday, wrote in a statement: ‘We were together as a couple for four years. I counted him as my best friend, and as close to me as family.
‘I obviously was not there during his marriage to Amber, but, from my experience, which was so wildly different, I was absolutely shocked, confused and upset when I heard the accusations against him.
Depp is alleged to have trashed a penthouse in Los Angeles, California, which Heard used as a colossal closet
Depp admitted to leaving graffiti on a bathroom mirror after the fight with Heard, which resulted in his finger being severed
‘The idea that he is an incredibly violent person is the farthest thing from the Johnny I knew and loved. I cannot wrap my head around these accusations.’
Johnny Depp v The Sun: Key issues in libel trial
Hollywood star Johnny Depp’s libel claim against The Sun enters its second week on Monday. These are the key issues the trial judge, Mr Justice Nicol, has to determine.
– Whether the April 2018 article by the tabloid’s executive editor Dan Wootton was defamatory of Mr Depp. Under the Defamation Act 2013, a statement is not defamatory unless its publication causes ‘serious harm to the reputation of the claimant’.
– The Sun’s publisher, News Group Newspapers (NGN), is defending the claim and relying on a defence of truth. It is for the publisher to prove that the allegations made in the article are ‘substantially true’.
– The meaning of the article, which is defined as what it would mean to the ‘reasonable reader’, will have to be determined by the judge. But NGN’s lawyers say the differences between the rival meanings contended by each side are ‘not significant’ and the outcome of the case will therefore not turn on meaning.
– Mr Depp’s case is that the article bore the meaning that he was ‘guilty, on overwhelming evidence, of serious domestic violence against his then wife, causing significant injury and leading to her fearing for her life, for which he was constrained to pay no less than £5 million to compensate her, and which resulted in him being subjected to a continuing court restraining order; and for that reason is not fit to work in the film industry’. He strenuously denies the allegations and claims he ‘has never hit or committed any acts of physical violence against Ms Heard’.
– The meaning which NGN will seek to prove is true is that the Claimant beat his wife Amber Heard, causing her to suffer significant injury and on occasion leading her to fearing for her life. They rely on 14 separate allegations of violence and allege more generally that Mr Depp was ‘controlling and verbally and physically abusive’ towards Ms Heard, particularly when he was under the influence of alcohol and or drugs, throughout their relationship. NGN’s lawyers say an important issue for the judge to decide will be what substances Mr Depp was using during the relationship. They contend that he frequently lost control of himself, partly because of his heavy drug and alcohol use, and also that his memory has been impaired by his heavy use of drugs.
– If Mr Depp wins his case, the judge will have to decide what level of compensation he should receive for the harm to his reputation and for the ‘distress, hurt and humiliation caused’. There is an upper limit on general damages for libel of £300,000 to £325,000. However, if he succeeds, Mr Depp may also be entitled to aggravated damages. The actor is also asking for a final injunction against NGN, who his legal team say ‘have retained the article on their website and maintained their allegation to the bitter end’.
Stranger Things actress Ryder was in a relationship with Depp during the early 1990s, and he famously tattooed ‘Winona Forever’ on his arm – before changing it to ‘Wino Forever’ following their split.
What Depp is being questioned about at the High Court during the libel case
Depp has been questioned since Tuesday over 14 alleged domestic violence incidents, and his Hollywood lifestyle, past relationships with Ryder, Vanessa Paradis and Kate Moss, and his well-documented use of drink and drugs.
The court has heard disputed accounts of a three-day trip to Australia, when Depp lost the top of his middle finger, and the so-called ‘defecation incident’ in which faeces were found in the couple’s bed after Heard’s 30th birthday.
Depp finished giving evidence today after around 25 hours in the witness box at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.
NGN’s lawyers have said Depp first hit his ex-wife in early 2013 during a heated argument over a painting – which he allegedly tried to set alight – by Heard’s ex Tasya van Ree and attacked her on a number of other occasions before the couple split in May 2016.
The publisher claims Depp is a ‘Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ character who snapped when he was drunk and on drugs and turned into ‘the Monster’ – an ‘alter ego’ he assumed when he would ‘lose control and become a violent thug’.
The Pirates Of The Caribbean star has admitted giving misleading evidence about his drink and drug use before a flight from Boston to LA in May 2014 and ‘accidentally’ headbutting Heard during a row at their home in December 2015, but says his ex-wife’s allegations are ‘complete lies’ and that she was ‘the abuser’ in the relationship.
He accuses Heard of severing the top of his middle finger with a vodka bottle in Australia in March 2015 and of ‘building a dossier very early on’ in their relationship to align herself with the #MeToo movement.
The court also heard evidence last week on Friday afternoon from LAPD officer Melissa Saenz who attended the couple’s penthouse after the actor allegedly hit Heard in the face with her own mobile phone in May 2016, who said she ‘did not see any injuries’ or damage to the apartment.
Paradis, 47, and Ryder, 48, were originally due to give evidence this week, as was alleged Harvey Weinstein victim Katherine Kendall, 50, who accuses Mr Wootton of ‘deliberately misusing’ her quotes and ‘using the #MeToo movement’ to damage Depp.
Heard’s evidence was expected to begin on Friday morning – but it is not clear when the Aquaman actress will give evidence as Depp’s cross-examination has taken almost two days longer than scheduled.
The three-week trial, which is due to finish on July 27, will also hear evidence from current and former employees of Depp and Heard, as well as her sister and friends by video-link from LA.
The actor is suing NGN and Mr Wootton over the publication of an article on April 27 2018 with the headline: ‘Gone Potty: How can JK Rowling be ‘genuinely happy’ casting wife beater Johnny Depp in the new Fantastic Beasts film?’
NGN is defending the article as true, and says Depp was ‘controlling and verbally and physically abusive towards Heard, particularly when he was under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs’.
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Boris Johnson unveils huge penalty for those breaking self-isolation rules
Covid sufferers could be fined up to £10,000 if they leave their house when they are meant to be self-isolating under draconian new rules being introduced by Boris Johnson.
With his Ministers locked in debate this weekend over whether to introduce a second lockdown that would devastate the economy, the Prime Minister announced that he was creating a new legal duty for people to self-isolate if they test positive for the virus or are told to do so by Test and Trace staff.
Under a ‘carrot and stick’ approach, 4 million people on low incomes who cannot work from home will receive a £500 lump sum if forced to self-isolate.
Drinkers hit the town ahead of Boris Johnsons plans to close pubs in England. Nottingham was packed with revellers all enjoying a night out on Saturday September 19.
Long queues were seen with security having to step in and ask people to space out more due to zero social distancing going on. Police and community protection were doing patrols.
Party animals in Nottingham seemed to shake off concerns about the coronavirus and social distancing as they gathered for a night out on Saturday.
Covid sufferers could be fined up to £10,000 if they leave their house when they are meant to be self-isolating under draconian new rules being introduced by Boris Johnson. Pictured: People visit Stables Market in Camden, London, earlier today
The Prime Minister announced that he was creating a new legal duty for people to self-isolate if they test positive for the virus. Pictured: People wandering through Stables Market earlier today
A sharp rise in the number of cases over recent weeks has triggered alarm in Downing Street. Pictured: Prime Minister Boris Johnson
But fines for those breaching the rules, which come into effect a week tomorrow, will start at £1,000 – rising to £10,000 for repeat offenders and ‘the most egregious breaches’, which would include business owners who threaten self-isolating staff with redundancy if they do not come to work.
A sharp rise in the number of cases over recent weeks has triggered alarm in Downing Street, with the Government’s scientific advisers pushing for a ‘circuit breaking’ second lockdown – but Ministers led by Chancellor Rishi Sunak are warning of the devastating economic impact.
A No 10 source admitted last night: ‘It’s not looking good.’
In a carefully choreographed move, the advisers, including Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty, are expected to release data showing the rise in cases at a public event tomorrow.
Mr Johnson could then make a televised appearance on Tuesday to set out new measures.
The extent, and the duration, of the new rules are still being discussed by Ministers, but are likely to include a nationwide curfew on pubs and a ban on the mixing of households.
The development came as:
- The number of daily cases reached 4,422, the highest level since early May, with scientists fearing that infections are growing between two and seven per cent each day, with a national R rate between 1.1 and 1.4;
- Sources said that Mr Whitty was on ‘resignation watch’ over fears he may quit if Ministers resist his calls for tougher restrictions – but Mr Johnson is said to be in Whitty’s ‘grip’;
- Supermarkets ran out of online delivery slots as the spectre of a second national lockdown prompted fears of panic buying, as Morrisons introduced limits on the number of shoppers across its 500 supermarkets for the first time since the height of the pandemic in March;
- Hospitality industry leaders warned they faced ‘economic disaster’ from a second lockdown with one in five of their venues – rising to a third in London – still closed and 900,000 employees on the Treasury furlough scheme which runs out at the end of October;
- No 10 reacted angrily to a ‘brutal and personal’ report in The Times claiming that Mr Johnson was miserable and short of money;
- Mr Sunak called for tough measures to balance the Treasury’s books in the wake of the Covid crisis, including a freeze on benefits and public sector pay, as officials mocked Mr Johnson’s ‘Operation Moonshot’ plan for mass testing as ‘Operation Moonf***’;
- Anti-vaccine protesters clashed with police in London; leading to 32 arrests;
- A third of the people recorded to have died from Covid in July and August may actually have passed away due to other causes, researchers at Oxford University suggested;
- The British Medical Association called on the Government to consider further tightening rules about who can meet, in the wake of the rise in daily cases.
Under a ‘carrot and stick’ approach, 4 million people on low incomes who cannot work from home will receive a £500 lump sum if forced to self-isolate. Pictured: People sit on a terrace enjoying the weather in London today
The Prime Minister said last night: ‘The best way we can fight this virus is by everyone following the rules and self-isolating if they’re at risk of passing on coronavirus. And so nobody underestimates just how important this is, new regulations will mean you are legally obliged to do so if you have the virus or have been asked to do so by NHS Test and Trace.
‘People who choose to ignore the rules will face significant fines. We need to do all we can to control the spread of this virus, to prevent the most vulnerable people from becoming infected, and to protect the NHS and save lives’.
Under the new rules, Test and Trace call handlers will make regular contact with those self-isolating and will pass on suspicions about those breaking the rules to local authorities and the police.
But one Government adviser, Professor Robert Dingwall, argued that it would be premature to reintroduce tougher measures, especially as existing rules have become ‘unenforceable’ because people do not buy into the spirit of the restrictions.
Under the new rules, Test and Trace call handlers will make regular contact with those self-isolating and will pass on suspicions about those breaking the rules to local authorities and the police. Pictured: Members of the public sit outside a cafe in southwest London today
People in southwest London made the most of the good weather today to visit cafes and sit outside in the sun
‘There is a sense among some of the scientific advisers that the Government is perhaps jumping the gun,’ he said.
‘It’s a bit premature to say that we’re on this exponential growth curve when we may just be drifting up to a stable situation at a slightly higher level than we were a few weeks ago, which you would expect with the re-opening of the economy.’
Prof Dingwall also asked whether ‘we are drifting towards a situation where people are quite comfortable with the idea that 20,000 people will die every year from Covid as we are comfortable with the idea that 20,000 people will die every year from influenza. And we shrug our shoulders and get on with our lives.
‘We need to be having more of a national conversation that starts from the lives of ordinary people and what is practical to achieve, and what the costs of these measures are.’
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British mother who fought Sharia courts in Dubai to see her son faces losing her home
A British mother who fought the Sharia courts in Dubai for access to her son faces having to sell her home – after a UK judge ordered her to pay nearly £100,000 towards her ex-husband’s legal costs.
Afsana Lachaux, a former policy aide to Gordon Brown who now works for The Princes Trust, has spent eight years battling for custody of Louis, her youngest child, after the Emirate state granted a divorce and branded her an unfit mother.
She currently sees him for six hours a year in an approved contact centre.
But despite the Court of Appeal in France ruling that the divorce was invalid and ‘manifestly discriminatory’, the Dubai decision has been upheld by the British family courts.
In a ruling described as ‘unconscionable’ by a member of her legal team, devastated Ms Lachaux has now been ordered to pay her former partner Bruno’s legal costs of £93,867.96 – and may face bankruptcy if she does not pay it in full.
Afsana Lachaux, a former policy aide to Gordon Brown who now works for The Princes Trust, has spent eight years battling for custody of Louis, her youngest child, (pictured together) after the Emirate state granted a divorce and branded her an unfit mother
Speaking to The Mail on Sunday, Afsana, 52, said the decision made her feel like she was ‘drowning every day’ and the only option was to sell her house.
‘I’ve lost my child, I’ve lost my career and now I could lose my home,’ she said.
‘I could lose my home and I am terrified.’
Ms Lachaux’s ordeal began in 2012 when she was living in Dubai with her then-husband, French aerospace engineer Bruno Lachaux, and one-year-old Louis.
The couple had married in London but their relationship had broken down. Their subsequent divorce in Dubai was based on its sharia legal system.
Official translations from the proceedings stated she had not ‘obeyed her husband’ and was a negligent mother because Louis had eczema and she had struggled to breastfeed.
Ms Lachaux (pictured holding a sign reading Bring Louis Home) began her ordeal in 2012 when she was living in Dubai with her then-husband, French aerospace engineer Bruno Lachaux, and one-year-old Louis
Ms Lachaux’s currently sees her youngest child (pictured together) for six hours a year in an approved contact centre
Despite French Courts’ ruling, however the British family courts concluded that overall the Dubai proceedings had been fair and the decision to award Bruno sole custody would probably have been the same in the UK.
‘I was in a very dark place at that time. It felt like my son had been ripped from my womb,’ she recalls.
The divorce had to be ratified back in Bruno’s home country of France and, last year, its Supreme Court ruled it was invalid and ‘manifestly discriminatory’ as it applied non-reciprocal grounds for divorce imposed by Emirati law on women only.
The ruling encouraged Ms Lachaux, who has two older sons from a previous marriage, to seek a similar judgement in the UK, hoping that it could result in her gaining greater access to Louis.
But Justice Nicholas Mostyn instead backed the legal outcome in Dubai, and the Court of Appeal in London agreed.
Justice Mostyn made severe criticisms of both parties in the case but, in a highly unusual move in a case involving access to children, he also ruled that Afsana would have to pay her ex-husband’s legal costs – with eight per cent interest added every day.
Ms Lachaux, who was awarded the Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize for her work campaigning for justice and the protection of women, is now on anti-depressants and sleeping pills to help her cope with the strain
She has launched a crowdfunding campaign to meet the court demand, and is determined to raise awareness of the way British courts treat people with mental health issues (pictured previously with her son)
It came even though Ms Lachaux’s legal team argued that such an award was unreasonable given she then had no job and had been suffering from PTSD.
‘The judge found I had a mental health illness, found I’d been traumatised and knew I had no money. How is that right?,’ she said.
Human rights lawyer David Haigh, a campaigner for human rights in the UAE who has been helping her with her case, said: ‘The costs imposed upon her by the Family Court – and remember, we’re talking about the Family Court – are just extortionate.
‘In upholding the Dubai judgement, the courts here weren’t even required to conduct a full hearing.
‘To expect her to pay fees totalling nearly £100,000 is unconscionable and the damage that it’s done to her and her family is profound.’
Ms Lachaux, who was awarded the Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize for her work campaigning for justice and the protection of women, is now on anti-depressants and sleeping pills to help her cope with the strain.
She has launched a crowdfunding campaign to meet the court demand, and is determined to raise awareness of the way British courts treat people with mental health issues.
‘I also want to shine a light on the judicial system and how they treat ordinary mums,’ she said.
‘The judges have to be held accountable. There’s no understanding of the daily reality of women like myself.
‘If payday loan sharks and finance companies and credit card companies aren’t allowed to punish people with mental health in this way, why is the court allowed to do that?
‘The law says ability to pay isn’t an excuse and I’m still trying to challenge that.’
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Secret Service intercepts package to Trump containing deadly poison RICIN
A package containing the poison ricin and addressed to President Donald Trump was intercepted by law enforcement earlier this week.
All packages addressed to the White House are sorted and screened at a secure offsite facility prior to delivery. Two law enforcement sources told CNN that two tests were done to confirm the presence of ricin.
The envelope to the White House was caught at the final offsite processing facility where mail is screened before being sent to the White House mail room.
Investigators believe that it was sent from Canada, a law enforcement official told the New York Times.
The Secret Service has intercepted a package addressed to Trump containing deadly ricin
Ricin is a highly potent toxin derived from castor beans, and is extremely lethal if inhaled or injected, but less so if ingested. Inhaling a dose the size of a few grains of salt can be lethal to adults.
‘The F.B.I. and our U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Postal Inspection Service partners are investigating a suspicious letter received at a U.S. government mail facility,’ the Federal Bureau of Investigation said in a statement to the Times. ‘At this time, there is no known threat to public safety.’
Deadly ricin has previously been used to target American politicians through the mail.
In 2014, actress Shannon Richardson, who appeared on The Walking Dead, was convicted of sending envelopes containing ricin addressed to then President Barack Obama and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
She was sentenced to 18 years in prison.
All packages addressed to the White House are sorted and screened at a secure offsite facility prior to delivery
Ricin was also featured in a multi-season plot arc in the television series Breaking Bad, which inspired several real-life criminal schemes involving the poison.
In 2014, Georgetown University student Daniel Milzman pleaded guilty to a federal charge after a bag of ricin was found in his dorm room.
Prosecutors say he had planned to use it on another student he had formerly been in a relationship with. He was sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison.
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