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Amber Heard is currently entrenched in a defamation lawsuit brought against her by ex-husband Johnny Depp, but the actress is also still navigating muddy waters in Australia.
Local authorities across the country recently confirmed they are still investigating whether she committed perjury for illegally bringing her dogs into the country without declaring them quarantined, and a legal expert is looking into what might have changed for Heard in the incident.
The serious offense alleges the ‘Aquaman’ star, 36, lied under oath ‘during legal proceedings for the illegal importation of (his) two dogs into Australia in 2015,’ a spokesperson for the Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment (DAWE). Fox News Digital Thursday.
The department stipulates that foreign pets must be quarantined for 10 days when first brought into the country, and they believe Heard was aware of the strict policy but would have ignored it anyway smuggling them into the country.
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“” The Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment (department) is investigating allegations of perjury by Ms Heard in legal proceedings for the illegal importation of (her) two dogs into Australia in 2015,” said the spokesperson, which was first reported by Newsweek. “As the case is ongoing, the ministry cannot comment further. »
The investigation first came to light last October, with the department saying it was “seeking to obtain witness statements and once obtained, the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions will consider whether there is sufficient evidence to warrant prosecution. of the case”.
A representative for Heard did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
In 2015 – when Heard and the 58-year-old ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ star were still an item – she brought the couple’s two Yorkshire terriers, Boo and Pistol, to Australia and claimed the assistant Depp, Kevin Murphy, had to make arrangements to get the dogs admitted properly, according to a court statement by Murphy.
No preferential treatment
Depp’s assistant reportedly informed Heard that taking the dogs to Australia would violate its rules on biosecurity protections from foreign entities. Heard allegedly made a false declaration on her immigration card when she checked “no” to the question of importing into the country anything that should have been declared.
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“Just because he’s Johnny Depp doesn’t mean he’s exempt from Australian law,” Barnaby Joyce, the then agriculture minister, told a press conference in May 2015. “There’s a process if you want to bring animals – you get the permits, they go into quarantine and then you can have them… It’s time for Pistol and Boo to flee to the United States.
The global incident led to the ex-couple posting an apology video and Depp chartering a private jet to fly Boo and Pistol back to Los Angeles for their safety, to which Deputy Prime Minister Joyce tweeted, ” The dogs are gone. »
Celebrity barrister Chris Melcher, partner of Walzer Melcher – who is not involved in the Australian investigation or the US libel suit – explained what happened in Australia according to his estimate of a legal point of view.
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“When Amber Heard was facing criminal charges in Australia for making a false statement on the arrival form regarding the couple’s dogs, her defense was that she relied on an assistant to ensure the dogs could enter the country and assumed that the assistant had obtained the appropriate authorization. “, Melcher explained to Fox News Digital.
“The assistant, Kate James, had already been fired and had not provided a statement attesting to Amber’s story. So Amber presented the statement from another aide, Kevin Murphy, who attested that it was Ms James’ fault. With this declaration in hand, Amber negotiated a settlement with the Australian court where she pleaded guilty to presenting a false document (the arrival form) and received a warning. »
However, “Mr Murphy has since come forward and said he lied in that statement. It was Mr. Murphy [who] tried to allow the dogs to travel and told Amber he couldn’t complete the process and the dogs couldn’t fly,’ the attorney added of Murphy’s 2020 admission during a hearing. proceedings in the High Court in London for a separate case.
Melcher insisted to Fox News Digital that, based on Murphy’s own admission that he lied in the statement he provided to the court, the Australian government could impose stiff penalties on Heard.
“If her new statement is believed, the Australian government can charge Amber with the crime of bribery, perjury or perversion of justice, which carries prison sentences of 7 to 14 years,” Melcher explained. “Due to the seriousness of these offences, there is no time limit for the filing of charges. »
Heard was initially charged with illegally importing animals and knowingly producing a false or misleading document, which carries up to 10 years in prison. Heard eventually pleaded guilty and paid a $1,000 fine.
Meanwhile, Depp and Heard issued a statement on the importance of following Australian law and “declaring everything”, which many said had the makings of a “hostage video”.
Admission of guilt
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“There is a good reason Australians are complaining. Not only did Amber threaten Australia’s biosecurity by smuggling Boo and Pistol into the country, but the court was tricked into granting her leniency based on Mr Murphy’s statement,” Melcher added.
In addition, Heard later named his new dog “Barnaby Joyce” after Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister publicly told his dogs to ‘go back to the United States’.
At the time, Joyce said he was “okay” with the moniker, noting, “I have a real sense of accomplishment that I’m still in his head long after I’ve forgotten about them.” he declared.
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However, Melcher believes Heard’s act “adds further insult” since Joyce “excorated the couple for bringing the dogs in without proper permission”.
Meanwhile, in the US defamation case involving Heard and Depp, the trial is on day 20 and the defense is presenting its case. Heard’s sister Whitney, his former best friend Raquel Pennington, as well as actress and Depp’s ex-friend Ellen Barkin all testified on Heard’s behalf.
Oral arguments are scheduled to begin on Friday, May 27.