August 11, 2022

Perjury carries a 7-year prison sentence in the UK

Legal experts have suggested Amber Heard could face a police probe amid claims of perjury after the actress admitted not honouring a pledge to donate $3.5million from her divorce settlement with Johnny Depp to charity – despite telling the High Court she had.

Heard said in 2016, that she would split her £5.5million ($7million) divorce settlement between the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), but has since admitted on the stand that this has not happened, citing Depp’s legal proceedings as the reason.

Depp is suing Heard for $50m over an op-ed she wrote which he claims inferred he physically and sexually abused her during their marriage from 2015-2017. Heard is counter suing for $100m.

In 2018, Heard also told Dutch talkshow RTL Late Night that: “$7million in total was donated – I split it between the ACLU and the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. I wanted nothing.”

The ACLU earlier confirmed in evidence that $1.3m had been donated by Heard or on her behalf and that, of that money, Heard contributed $350,000 directly.

Depp’s lawyer Camille Vasquez argued on Monday that Heard had the money for months before the lawsuit, yet failed to honour her pledge.

The disclosure has led to accusations that Heard misled the public and suggestions it could open her up to further legal proceedings.

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Sean Caulfield, partner at law firm Hodge, Jones and Allen, told MailOnline that Heard could face a perjury probe in the UK as misleading a court “cuts to the core of our justice system”.

He told the publisher that he believes police may investigate the matter, saying: “While it may not be a central issue to the case [the donations], perjury is the single biggest threat and cuts to the core of our justice system, so the police may be invited to investigate to show that any member of the public who lies to the court can be prosecuted for perjury.”

He told MailOnline that perjury was difficult to prove and Heard would need to be extradited “which is unlikely, especially as she is a US resident”.

Another legal expert, Mark Stephens, echoed Caulfield’s comments, saying perjury was “notoriously difficult to bring and prosecute”.

“You have to show that someone deliberately told an untruth as opposed to them being confused or misremembering. I think it would be a very difficult thing to do,” he said, adding: “Police could investigate it, but they probably would not prosecute it.”

Steven Heffer, Head of Privacy at law firm Collyer Bristow, said perjury – which carries a prison sentence of up to 7 years – “strikes at the very heart of the justice system”.

“If one of the witnesses had been proved to have lied in the course of the English libel case, they could expect a prosecution for perverting the course of justice and perjury and a likely custodial sentence,” he told MailOnline.

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The accusations come as Heard is already undergoing a police probe for perjury in an FBI-backed probe into claims she lied to Australian officials after smuggling her dogs into the country in 2015.

Heard avoided biosecurity charges after she publicly apologised and blamed a lack of sleep for entering the country without the required paperwork for Yorkshire Terriers Pistol and Boo.

In October, Australian authorities confirmed they are revisiting the incident after fresh details emerged during the former couple’s UK hearing.

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