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JAN MOIR: Amber Heard wanted to be a heroine, but now she’s defined by this circus of sadness

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Moments after the trial ended, when the spiral of smoke still lingered after the terrible match had been struck, Amber Heard announced that the verdict was ‘a setback for women’. Well, it was certainly a setback for her.

What future awaits the 36-year-old actress, who now stands before the world exposed as a teller of lies, a cleaver of fingertips, a despoiler of bed sheets?

One wonders if the perfume deals and lead roles once proffered by the greasy hand of Hollywood are something she can now only see from the rear-view mirror of her career; watching as they bounce down the Amber highway, along with the tumbleweeds of woe and the mud-slinging memories of her toxic marriage to Johnny Depp.

Moments after the trial ended, when the spiral of smoke still lingered after the terrible match had been struck, Amber Heard announced that the verdict was ‘a setback for women’

At the end of this mutual defamation trial, jurors found that Heard did indeed defame her ex-husband when she wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post, in which she described herself as ‘a public figure representing domestic abuse’.

In her post-trial statement, she even managed to peel open a fresh seam of victimhood, claiming that she felt sad ‘to have lost a right I thought I had as an American — to speak freely and openly’. 

However, it is no secret, certainly not to her lawyers, that free speech doesn’t give you a right to say whatever you want.

This lapse is hardly surprising. The six weeks of this trial were characterised by mirage after mirage: from the millions of dollars pledged but never donated to the dry-eye tears that threatened but never fell, no matter how hard she tried to crank them out in the witness box.

The only real tears came on Wednesday afternoon, when the verdicts were read out and a new reality dawned. And even then, despite everything, it was hard not to feel sorry for her. 

All but one of the counts went against Ms Heard and, all too predictably, her supporters are now claiming that this case was nothing more than an orgy of misogyny.

Jurors found Heard did defame ex Johnny Depp when she wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post, in which she described herself as 'a public figure representing domestic abuse'

Jurors found Heard did defame ex Johnny Depp when she wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post, in which she described herself as ‘a public figure representing domestic abuse’

It was, by turns, a curdled victory for the patriarchy and a triumph only for Depp’s celebrity supremacy and superior buying power when it came to lawyers. Even worse, it made a mockery of justice — and sent victims of domestic abuse hurtling back into the Dark Ages.

But none of this is true. To believe that it is does a disservice not only to the jury in this case, but to calm, wise Judge Penney Azcarate and to the due process of law itself, so strictly observed every day in her Fairfax County Court in Virginia.

Those who watched the case with an open mind did not witness a great miscarriage of justice nor a travesty fuelled by societal fault lines and gender bias.

What we saw, as the trial unfolded, was the credibility of Amber Heard slowly suppurating under the hot poultice of truth. Slowly but surely, her hand-crafted persona as the blameless wife was exposed as a nonsense.

The uncomfortable fact is that instead of being a saintly figurehead for abused women in particular, and the sisterhood in general, she was repeatedly found to have lied.

I think everyone has to be honest about that, instead of freighting this case with a cultural and judicial significance it simply does not deserve.

The only real tears came on Wednesday afternoon, when the verdicts were read out and a new reality dawned. And even then, despite everything, it was hard not to feel sorry for her

The only real tears came on Wednesday afternoon, when the verdicts were read out and a new reality dawned. And even then, despite everything, it was hard not to feel sorry for her

Maybe, just maybe, Amber and Johnny don’t represent anything more than themselves: two spoiled, rich people who lost their way in life and are now trying to find their way back.

How did we get here? When Heard wrote her troublesome article in 2018, the #MeToo movement was at the height of its bombast. 

Back then, the orthodoxy was that if a woman said it, you had to believe it. If it is my truth, then it is the only truth.

This certainly put some brutes in the dock, where they deserved to be, but there was a terrible contagion of blame in the air. If a man was accused, guilt was assumed and that was the end of the matter.

‘Believe all women,’ was one of the rallying cries of the hashtag movement, a message as wilful and shameful then as it is today. 

Yet high-profile women on both sides of the Atlantic flocked to support Ms Heard, without ever doubting her word or her motives: woman good, man bad, next case.

Now the pendulum has swung back to a more measured approach. How unlucky for Heard that she has been caught fast, trapped in the amber of a more frenzied age, and now to be forever defined by a big-top trial that in the end turned into a circus of sadness.

if Amber Heard did not come out of the trial well, then neither did Johnny Depp, despite his fond opinion of himself as a southern gentleman of impeccable manners and character

if Amber Heard did not come out of the trial well, then neither did Johnny Depp, despite his fond opinion of himself as a southern gentleman of impeccable manners and character 

Did it help or hinder the couple that the case was broadcast across streaming platforms and on social media sites and feasted upon every day by an audience of millions hungry for more?

#JusticeforJohnny videos have had more than 19 billion views, compared with 81 million for I Stand With Amber supporters. 

She was subjected to the usual online misogyny, but what does that prove, except that the anonymous public are hateful?

And could it be that parts of the internet turned against her because they watched the trial and formed their own opinions about who was telling the truth? This trial! It was too much, it was never enough, it was a peek into an abyss of excess. 

And if Amber Heard did not come out of it well, then neither did Johnny Depp, despite his fond opinion of himself as a southern gentleman of impeccable manners and character.

Every day in court, he would sit at a little desk, sketching doodles and toying with his jelly sweets, his idling charm ever present as his life was held on pause. 

Yet the evidence showed he was no one’s idea of a dream husband — a prickly, jealous, foul-mouthed addict who drank and drugged to pickled excess.

‘The only person I ever abused was myself,’ he said at one point, so there was at least a glimmer of self-knowledge. 

On his last day in court, as he stared down the barrel of his life, Depp looked utterly haunted. The lost years, the rubble of his existence, the fear and loathing — how did it get to this?

Some of the arguments on both sides were persuasive. In his closing speech, one of Amber’s lawyers posed the enigma of her alleged domestic abuse: if there are photographs, they are doctored, if there are no photographs, it didn’t happen. 

Meanwhile, Depp’s lawyer pointed out one unique aspect of these proceedings: it was a #MeToo trial without a me, too — for no other woman had come forward to accuse him of anything.

It seems clear that in setting herself up as a figurehead for abused women, Ms Heard wanted to be seen as a kind of heroine. Yet if you were looking for a woman to admire, there were plenty of them involved in this case.

There was so much to admire from so many heroines in this courtroom, but the tragedy — for her and for everyone else — is that Amber Heard wasn't one of them

There was so much to admire from so many heroines in this courtroom, but the tragedy — for her and for everyone else — is that Amber Heard wasn’t one of them

Judge Azcarate herself, a former serving Marine who carries her court papers in a Winnie-the-Pooh satchel. 

Forensic psychologist Dr Shannon Curry, whose expert testimony was so clear and concise. Depp team lawyer Camille Vasquez who played such a crucial role in giving her client back his life.

There was so much to admire from so many heroines in this courtroom, but the tragedy — for her and for everyone else — is that Amber Heard wasn’t one of them.

CHEERS FOR OUR HEROIC TOP DOGS

Yesterday lunchtime, I went to Kensington Gardens in London to watch the Jubilee flypast. What a jolly scene! Crowds of tourists and locals mingled in the sunshine as dogs wearing Union Jack bandanas scampered around. There was even a pooch in a bow tie, bless him!

At the appointed hour, the low rumble of heavy aircraft spilled across the royal parklands and soon the planes swung into view, a stately procession droning over the rooftops of London, these guardians of our skies.

Everyone clapped and cheered, it was surprisingly moving — and that was before the Red Arrows provided their pluming, thunderous, perfect finale.

Who needs Top Gun when we’ve got the real deal?

Poor Prince Andrew, catching Covid at such an (in)opportune moment!

And to think that Meghan and Harry flew all this way hoping for a proper family reunion. They must be so disappointed!

A TAD TOO CASUAL, JUSTINE! 

OK, fair enough that Mumsnet mumpreneur Justine Roberts is a busy, busy woman and the kind of Leftie who might not be Boris Johnson’s greatest fan. But couldn’t she have worn something rather smarter for her interview with the Prime Minister this week?

Justine turned up for her tête-a-tête at No 10 dressed like a Glastonbury-bound teenager, in a T-shirt, athleisure trousers and a pair of dead cool trainers.

Justine Roberts turned up for her tête-a-tête at No 10 dressed like a Glastonbury-bound teenager, in a T-shirt, athleisure trousers and a pair of dead cool trainers

Justine Roberts turned up for her tête-a-tête at No 10 dressed like a Glastonbury-bound teenager, in a T-shirt, athleisure trousers and a pair of dead cool trainers

Maybe she is no Conservative supporter, but she was a guest in the headquarters of government.

You don’t have to respect the man to honour the office, Justine!

Hard to know if it was a studied act of casual contempt, or just business as usual from a mum in a rush.

Am I reading this correctly? The Queen sent a well-behaved horse named Macron to President Fabulous as a gift to mark her Platinum Jubilee? 

No, hang on. A fabulous person sent a well-behaved queen to President Macron to mark the Platinum Jubilee. Give me a minute. 

Queen Macron sent a fabulous president to a horse to mark the Platinum Jubilee. No, got it at last. 

President Macron sent the Queen a well-behaved horse named Fabulous as a gift to mark the Platinum Jubilee. Merci, monsieur! 

DONOR AND MUMS SHARE THE BLAME

Most shoppers will check the sell-by date on a pint of milk or the provenance of a box of eggs before they purchase them.

What a pity the same rigour was not applied by the women buying sperm online from James MacDougall. 

A court in Derby has taken the unusual step of naming him, in order to inform would-be mothers that he suffers from Fragile X syndrome and that any children fathered by him risk being born with a condition that causes low intelligence.

Mr MacDougall knew this, but shamefully carried on selling his sperm anyway.

I don’t know who is the more irresponsible in this situation, him or the ask-no- questions mothers.

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