Johnny Depp says UK tabloid 'hacked' his phone for scoops on ex Vanessa's pregnancy, daughter Lily's illness
He and his team found evidence that 'clearly points towards repeated and prolonged illegal intrusion' into his private life
Johnny Depp has taken steps to initiate a lawsuit against one of the largest media companies in the UK, claiming that it illegally hacked his phone and extracted private information for a decade.
The Blast cited sources close to the situation, reporting that the 'Pirates of the Caribbean' star sent a letter of claim to the News Group Newspapers, a British subsidiary of the American-owned News Corp that operates the tabloid The Sun, as well as the now-defunct News of the World. In the letter, Depp accused the tabloid of "multiple breaches" of his privacy and "misuse of private information," which also involved getting access to his "voicemail messages and other unlawful data gathering."
The actor further explained that after an extensive investigation into the matter, he and his team found evidence that “clearly points towards repeated and prolonged illegal intrusion" into his private life via his phone, which was hacked between the years 1996 and 2010.
Depp said that The Sun used the cover of his "pals" for explaining how they were able to gather sensitive information, especially pertaining to his then-young children and medical details.
The reportedly "wrongful disclosures" by the newspaper included the pregnancies of his former girlfriend Vanessa Paradis, both of which were reported by the Sun first in 1998 and then again in 2002.
"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, adding that the specific articles left Depp "feeling the most angered and violated."
The tabloid was also the first one to get their hands on Depp's then 7-year-old daughter's serious illness, which landed her in the hospital. Lily-Rose Depp’s 2007 hospitalization for kidney failure has been described by Depp as one of the darkest moments of his life. She was able to make a full recovery after a 9-day-long treatment at the hospital, with her father and mother at her side.
From the news coverage of his daughter's hospitalization from that time, Depp's team claimed 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.”
The letter additionally claimed that Depp's discovery of his phone being hacked, as a result of which a vulnerable period of his daughter's life became a media circus, “deeply impacted him.” And with the new knowledge that he has gathered, he is now able to understand exactly how the information was obtained by the Sun, forcing him to relive the “anger, violation and helplessness” he felt at the time.
The actor has already taken legal action against the UK tabloid with a libel claim for labeling him a “wife-beater" — a case that is already headed to trial. With the new case, Depp claimed that he wants "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.”
He denied the suggestion that he was fighting the case to gain a "financial reward" and insisted that the basis was "principle." Depp said that he wanted the newspaper to admit its tactics in gathering information for articles in relation to the pregnancies and his daughter's illness.
“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," Depp’s attorney, Adam Waldman, said in a statement.