Johnny Depp’s slanderous defeat shows that Meghan Markle’s private suit in the tabloid could “explode”, lawyers said.
The Pirates of the Caribbean star saw the High Court in London dramatically decide that it was right for the British media to describe Depp as a “wife-beater”.
The actor shares the same lawyer, Jenny Afia, from the Schillings law firm, who had hired the Duchess of Sussex for her case against the Mail on Sunday.
When Meghan first filed the privacy and copyright lawsuit last October, she also had the same lawyer, David Sherborne, although she had dismissed him over the summer.
Amber Melville-Brown, head of media and reputation at law firm Withers, told Washington Newsday: “I definitely think there’s a lesson here for Meghan – watch out, because litigation is a very dangerous game.
“A decision to push the nuclear button on a lawsuit can fly in the face of a plaintiff.
“She watched, and everyone watched this catastrophic libel suit with accusations thrown around by one and the other, with the private details of her private life exposed for all to see.
“Meghan must sit at home and think to herself, ‘Here I am, just for the grace of God.
“It is by the grace of her own litigation. She could be going in the same direction. Does she still have the courage to fight?
“Does she want to see herself in the same situation, with hostile cross-examination, her private life and her exposed private thoughts?
Depp’s libel suit against the British tabloid The Sun came after an article in which he was described as a “wife-beater” and which contained few additional details.
However, in the course of what became known as the “libel trial of the century”, extraordinary details and images from his marriage emerged.
Among them were pictures of the bruised face of former wife Amber Heard after she said he attacked her, and messages Depp sent saying he wanted to burn and drown her.
The BBC reported that after today’s ruling Afia, both Meghan and Depp’s lawyer, said: “This decision is as perverse as it is confusing.
Mark Stephens, who previously represented Julian Assange, told Washington Newsday that Depp’s reputation was damaged by the material he was forced to disclose to the court-and Meghan faced a similar risk.
The UK-based lawyer for Howard Kennedy said: “The salutary lesson for Meghan is that celebrities don’t always win.
“It’s very difficult to lose a libel case in London, but if you overstate it or lie, you’re in real trouble and worse than that is disclosing all your personal relationships.
“He had to disclose WhatsApp news that he was using large amounts of drugs while in Australia.
Prince Harry’s “explosion” during the fight with William deepened the “rift”: Book
“How Meghan curates her reputation through friends and PR people and connections, she does not want to show how this sausage is made. She will only be criticized for whether she wins or loses.”
He added: “When you get a high-profile client like her, you don’t say ‘oh yes, we’ll easily fix that for you’.
“They say ‘yes, I can handle it, but you have to understand the disclosure and you have to understand the cross-examination.
“‘If you want to continue after that, there is one thing we can do for you.
“She seems to have woken up in the middle of this case and suddenly found that all her connections to her friends and her private messages are being forensically investigated and checked and that she is being cross-examined about the truth of what happened.
“These are problems for her”…