Johnny Depp believes he was the target of one of the largest media companies in the UK, which resulted in his phone being hacked and his privacy invaded for almost a decade.
According to sources close to the situation, the “Pirates of the Caribbean” star has initiated a legal case against News Group Newspapers in the form of a letter of claim. News Group Newspapers is a British subsidiary of the American-owned News Corp. and operates the tabloid, The Sun, as well as the now-defunct News of the World.
Depp is accusing the tabloids of “multiple breaches” of his privacy and “misuse of private information, including the illegal interception of his voicemail messages and other unlawful data gathering.
In the letter, Depp explains that his team has conducted an extensive investigation into the matter and believes the actor’s phone was hacked between the years 1996 – 2010. The investigation resulted in evidence that “clearly points towards repeated and prolonged illegal intrusion” into his private life.
Of the many “wrongful disclosures” of his private life, Depp claims the tabloids stole information about his then-young children and medical information.
During the time period, Depp claims The Sun revealed both of his girlfriend’s pregnancies to the public, first in 1998 and then again in 2002. He accuses the newspaper of using a cover of his “pals” for explaining how they were able to gather the sensitive information.
“These details were obviously intrusive and sensitive and included the stages of the pregnancies, our client’s movements and plans (showing clear surveillance of him),” the legal letter states.
Depp explains the tabloid disclosed details of his then 7-year-old daughter’s serious illness, which landed her in the hospital. The actor says the incidents surrounding those specific articles “left him feeling the most angered and violated.”
In the years since, Depp has opened up about daughter Lily-Rose Depp’s 2007 hospitalization for kidney failure and how it was one of the darkest moments of his life. Both Depp and then-girlfriend Vanessa Paradis stayed by their daughter’s bedside during the 9-day hospitalization, in which Lily-Rose was treated and made a successful recovery.
Looking back at the way the news was covered in 2007, Depp’s team explains that reporters:
“were aware that our client’s daughter was in a ‘serious condition,’ the name of the hospital where she was being treated, and the nature of her illness. They also knew of measures taken by our client to protect his and his family’s privacy, including entering the hospital through the staff entrance and traveling discretely.”
Depp says the discovery that his phone was allegedly hacked, and particularly that his children were subject to these activities, has “deeply impacted him.” The actor claims looking back through the articles with the new knowledge of how the information was obtained, is forcing him to relive the “anger, violation and helplessness” he felt at the time.
The fight between Depp and News Group Newspapers is bitter, as the “Pirates of the Caribbean” star has brought legal action against the UK tabloid before with a libel claim for previously labeling him a “wife-beater.” That case is headed to trial and ongoing.
Depp is adamant that he initiated this new case, not for “financial reward” but out of “principle.” Depp said he wants to “to protect his family, to seek justice for a wholly unjustifiable wrong which (the company) has yet to fully admit, and to uncover the truth about what went on.”
As for what he wants, Depp is asking the company to admit its tactics in gathering information for articles appearing in The Sun, specifically in relation to the pregnancies of his two children, and the articles regarding his daughter’s illness.
In the letter, Depp is asking for the company to admit its “wrongdoing” and is also asking the court to order a halt on any future practices of intercepting his information.
In response to his legal action, Depp’s attorney, Adam Waldman, tells The Blast:
“Yesterday we sent notice to the Sun of our intention to file suit against them for illegally hacking Johnny Depp. Our Barrister David Sherborne has represented Princess Diana, and also Elton John, Jude Law, Hugh Grant, and Prince Harry in hacking claims against the Sun. The Sun has paid out tens of millions of pounds to settle dozens of illegal hacking claims for one reason – because they did it. This case is a matter of principle for Mr. Depp, not one of money.”
Attempts to reach NGN for comment have been unsuccessful.