Coronavirus delays Johnny Depp's defamation trial as he's in isolation at French estate

Johnny Depp's defamation trial in London has been postponed due to the coronavirus, Yahoo Entertainment can confirm. The high-profile trial was supposed to start Monday, bringing Depp and ex-wife, Amber Heard, face-to-face. The actor is suing News Group Newspapers, the publisher of the Sun, over a 2018 story that called him a "wife beater."

A hearing took place Friday to determine whether the trial would need to be adjourned. Courts in the U.K. have been operating relatively normally as the country is not in lockdown. However, Depp is in France at his 37-acre estate and his legal team said the actor couldn't travel, nor is he able to give evidence through a suitable video link.

The Sun's legal counsel, Adam Wolanski QC, claimed in court Depp wanted the trial adjourned "not because of the coronavirus, but because he cannot face the prospect of his lies about his relationship being exposed because he’s a coward and because he knows he’s going to lose."

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LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 19: Actors Johnny Depp (L) and Amber Heard attend the UK Premiere of 'Mortdecai' at Empire Leicester Square on January 19, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 19: Johnny Depp and Amber Heard attend the UK Premiere of 'Mortdecai' at Empire Leicester Square on January 19, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
Johnny Depp and Amber Heard are married!The lavish island wedding is still to come, but People reports that The Rum Diary co-stars made it official Tuesday, marrying each other at their home in Los Angeles.People reports that Depp, 51, and Heard, 28, signed the papers to become man and wife in advance of their ceremony this weekend on Depp's private island in the Bahamas.The couple got engaged over the holidays in 2012 after meeting on the set of The Rum Diary in 2011.
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 19: Johnny Depp and Amber Heard attend the UK Premiere of 'Mortdecai' at Empire Leicester Square on January 19, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 19: Johnny Depp and Amber Heard attend the UK Premiere of 'Mortdecai' at Empire Leicester Square on January 19, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 19: Johnny Depp and Amber Heard attend the UK Premiere of 'Mortdecai' at Empire Leicester Square on January 19, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Anthony Harvey/Getty Images)
US actor Johnny Depp (L), accompanied by his fiancee US actress and model Amber Heard (R), arrive at Tokyo International Airport on January 26, 2015 for the Japan premiere of his latest movie 'Mortdecai'. The action comedy movie will be screened in Japan from February 6. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images)
US actress and model Amber Heard, accompanied by her fiance US actor Johnny Depp (unseen), arrives at Tokyo International Airport on January 26, 2015 for the Japan premiere of his latest movie 'Mortdecai'. The action comedy movie will be screened in Japan from February 6. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 19: Johnny Depp and Amber Heard attend the UK Premiere of 'Mortdecai' at Empire Leicester Square on January 19, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 19: (EDITORS NOTE: Retransmission of #461785548 with alternate crop.) Johnny Depp and Amber Heard attend the UK Premiere of 'Mortdecai' at Empire Leicester Square on January 19, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
US actor Johnny Depp (L) jokes with fiancee US actress and model Amber Heard (R) as they arrive for the UK premiere of the film 'Mortdecai' in London on January 19, 2015. AFP PHOTO / LEON NEAL (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 19: Johnny Depp and Amber Heard attend the UK Premiere of 'Mortdecai' at Empire Leicester Square on January 19, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 15: Johnny Depp and Amber Heard are seen at 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' on January 15, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by RB/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
SANTA MONICA, CA - JANUARY 10: Actor Johnny Depp and actress Amber Heard arrive at The Art Of Elysium 8th Annual Heaven Gala at Hangar 8 on January 10, 2015 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
SANTA MONICA, CA - JANUARY 10: (L-R) Johnny Depp and Amber Heard attend the Art of Elysium and Samsung Galaxy Marina Abramovic's HEAVEN Gala at Hangar 8 on January 10, 2015 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 10: Honoree Amber Heard (L) and actor Johnny Depp attend the 8th Annual HEAVEN Gala presented by Art of Elysium and Samsung Galaxy at Hangar 8 on January 10, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images for Art of Elysium)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 10: Actors Johnny Depp and Amber Heard attend the 8th Annual HEAVEN Gala presented by Art of Elysium and Samsung Galaxy at Hangar 8 on January 10, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images for Art of Elysium)
TOKYO, JAPAN - JANUARY 26: Johnny Depp and Amber Heard are seen upon arrival at Haneda Airport on January 26, 2015 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Jun Sato/GC Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - JANUARY 26: Amber Heard is seen upon arrival at Haneda Airport on January 26, 2015 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Jun Sato/GC Images)
SANTA MONICA, CA - JANUARY 10: Actors Johnny Depp (L) and Amber Heard attend the The Art Of Elysium 8th Annual Heaven Gala at Hangar 8 on January 10, 2015 in Santa Monica, California.(Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)
SANTA MONICA, CA - JANUARY 10: Actor Johnny Depp and actress Amber Heard arrive at The Art Of Elysium 8th Annual Heaven Gala at Hangar 8 on January 10, 2015 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 15: Johnny Depp and Amber Heard are seen at 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' on January 15, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by RB/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 10: Honoree Amber Heard (L) and actor Johnny Depp attend the 8th Annual HEAVEN Gala presented by Art of Elysium and Samsung Galaxy at Hangar 8 on January 10, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images for Art of Elysium)
Actor Johnny Depp attends the cast of 'Benny & Joon' present Planet Hollywood with memorabilias from the film on March 22, 1993 at Planet Hollywood, California.
BEVERLY HILLS,CA - MARCH 25: Actor Johnny Depp attends the 'Benny & Joon' Beverly Hills Premiere on March 25, 1993 at the WGA Theatre in Beverly Hills, California. (photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 01: Johnny Depp and Guest (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
1988 File Photo of Johnny Depp at the Nosotros Benefit in Los Angeles, California taken May 13, 1988 in Los Angeles, California (Photo by Barry King/WireImage)
Nicolas Cage & Johnny Depp (Photo by Barry King/WireImage)
Actor Johnny Depp attends the 18th Annual Los Angeles Police/Celebrity Golf Tournament on May 14, 1988 at Rancho Park Golf Course in Los Angeles, California.
SHERMAN OAKS,CA - DECEMBER 13: Actor Dustin Nguyen, actor Johnny Depp and actor Peter DeLuise attend the FOX Television Stars Feed the Homeless on December 13, 1987 at Sherman Oaks Galleria in Sherman Oaks, California. (photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
POMPANO BEACH, FL - AUGUST 29: Johnny Depp greets fans after performing as part of the Sheila Witkin Memorial Reunion Concert at Club Cinema on August 29, 2008 in Pompano Beach, Florida. (Photo by Mike Franklin/FilmMagic)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 22: Matthew Perry and Johnny Depp in New York to promote their first network series on the Fox Network in 1987 (Photo by Vinnie Zuffante/Getty Images)
LONDON - JANUARY 10: Johnny Depp attends the Sweeney Todd film premiere held at the Odeon Leicester Square on January 10, 2008 in London, England. (Photo by Eamonn McCormack/WireImage)
SANTA MONICA, CA - JANUARY 10: Johnny Depp; Amber Heard attend the The Art Of Elysium 8th Annual Heaven Gala at Hangar 8 on January 10, 2015 in Santa Monica, California.(Photo by JB Lacroix/WireImage)
SANTA MONICA, CA - JANUARY 10: Actors Johnny Depp and Amber Heard arrive at The Art Of Elysium's 8th Annual Heaven Gala at Hangar 8 on January 10, 2015 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 10: Honoree Amber Heard (L) and actor Johnny Depp attend the 8th Annual HEAVEN Gala presented by Art of Elysium and Samsung Galaxy at Hangar 8 on January 10, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images for Art of Elysium)
SANTA MONICA, CA - JANUARY 10: Actors Johnny Depp and Amber Heard arrive at The Art Of Elysium's 8th Annual Heaven Gala at Hangar 8 on January 10, 2015 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 10: Honoree Amber Heard (L) and actor Johnny Depp attend the 8th Annual HEAVEN Gala presented by Art of Elysium and Samsung Galaxy at Hangar 8 on January 10, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images for Art of Elysium)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 10: Actor Johnny Depp (L) presents the Spirit of Elysium award to honoree Amber Heard during the 8th Annual HEAVEN Gala presented by Art of Elysium and Samsung Galaxy at Hangar 8 on January 10, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images for Art of Elysium)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 05: Johnny Depp and Amber Heard attend the 'Charles James: Beyond Fashion' Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 5, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 05: Johnny Depp and Amber Heard attend the 'Charles James: Beyond Fashion' Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 5, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 05: Johnny Depp and Amber Heard attend the 'Charles James: Beyond Fashion' Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 5, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by George Pimentel/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 12: Actor Johnny Depp (L) and his fiancee actress Amber Heard arrive at the premiere of Relativity Media's '3 Days To Kill' at the Arclight Theatre on February 12, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 12: Johnny Depp and Amber Heard arrives at the '3 Days To Kill' at ArcLight Cinemas on February 12, 2014 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
Actor Johnny Depp kisses actress Amber Heard as they attend the US premiere of '3 Days To Kill,' at Arclight Cinemas, February 12, 2014 in Hollywood, California. AFP PHOTO ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
Actor Johnny Depp and actress Amber Heard attend the US premiere of '3 Days To Kill,' at Arclight Cinemas, February 12, 2014 in Hollywood, California. AFP PHOTO ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
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Heard, who is aiding in the Sun's defense, was prepared to get on a flight Friday from Los Angeles to London for the trial.

"As she has explained in a witness statement today, it is essential to Ms. Heard that this ordeal be brought to an end," Wolanski said. "She explains that he has for many years used his physical, financial and professional power to embarrass and harass her and people around her, including witnesses."

A spokesperson for Heard told Yahoo Friday, "As she has demonstrated, Amber is willing to give evidence on what she was subjected to, no matter the obstacles involved, and from the other side of the Atlantic. Mr. Depp, on the other hand, will not even make the effort to leave his palatial estate in the south of France. That speaks volumes."

A lawyer for the 56-year-old actor dismissed the notion the actor wanted to delay the trial.

"Mr. Depp has pursued and awaited justice for nearly four years," attorney Adam Waldman tells Yahoo Entertainment. "The Judge hearing Mr. Depp’s defamation case against the Sun raised safety and practicality concerns. Although the case is extremely important to Mr. Depp, he is also uneasy about putting anyone else in harm’s way. These are perilous times, and he accepts waiting until the borders and the courts can safely operate."

Waldman continued, "In contrast, the Sun tabloid fails to read their own newspaper accounts about current events, and exhibit their famous disdain for the British public. Ms. Heard's small coterie of friends and family witnesses, half of whom she sued to compel them to testify, also offered to appear by video link in a libel case for which the reporter Dan Wootton himself is too afraid to testify."

Wootton is who authored the article Depp says is libelous. In April 2018, the Sun published an article titled, "Gone Potty: How can J.K. Rowling be 'genuinely happy' casting wife beater Johnny Depp in the new Fantastic Beasts film?" The headline was later amended to "How can JK Rowling be 'genuinely happy' casting Johnny Depp in the new Fantastic Beasts film after assault claim?"

One of Depp’s U.K. attorneys is reportedly in self-isolation. High Court Judge Andrew Nicol recognized this week the potential impact COVID-19 could have midway through the trial, given the amount of people involved.

"There’s also the issue of if we were to start and illness struck one or more participants halfway through, what would we do? Even if you haven’t raised the question, I was going to raise it," Judge Nicol told the lawyers Wednesday prior to Friday's ruling.

Depp has called 17 potential witnesses while the newspaper has called seven, including Heard.

Heard, 33, and Depp, who split in 2016 after 15 months of marriage, are engaged in a separate defamation lawsuit in the states. 

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