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Cassy O’Connor, Tasmanian Greens leader, apologises for Johnny Depp defamation trial comments

Tasmanian Greens leader Cassy O’Connor has apologized for “the hurt and confusion” caused by comments she made in support of actor Johnny Depp.

Ms O’Connor said she had “watched too much” of the defamation trial involving Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard.

“I want to acknowledge, and genuinely apologise for, the hurt and confusion I have caused by allowing myself to be drawn into debate on the evidence of the Depp Heard trial,” she posted on social media.

“The trial itself has been triggering for victim-survivors everywhere, including me.”

Unlike a previous libel trial in the UK, Mr Depp won his US defamation case against Ms Heard.

During the six-week trial in Fairfax, Virginia, Mr Depp and Ms Heard accused each other of violence.

The seven-member jury found a statement that Ms Heard made about domestic abuse in a 2018 opinion piece clearly referred to Mr Depp.

He was awarded $US10.35 million.

Actor Amber Heard giving evidence during the defamation case against her by ex-husband, Johnny Depp.(Reuters: Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool)

The jury also found in favor of Ms Heard, who said she was defamed by Mr Depp’s lawyer when he called her abuse allegations a hoax.

Jury members found Ms Heard should receive $US2 million.

Fans of Mr Depp were at the Fairfax County courthouse daily during the trial, and the proceedings were televised.

A close shot shows Johnny Depp in profile, wearing pale-rimmed glasses and an earring shaped like a safety pin
Actor Johnny Depp won his defamation case against Amber Heard.(Reuters: Evelyn Hockstein/Pool)

Experts have warned the public nature of the case and the intensity of the public discourse surrounding it could have a chilling effect on survivors of domestic abuse.

Ms O’Connor used her Twitter account to show support for Mr Depp and criticized Ms Heard and her evidence at the trial.

She also raised the trial in state parliament last week, interjecting during a debate to criticize Labor MP Michelle O’Byrne, whom Ms O’Connor said was “about as good at that lectern as Amber Heard is in the Johnny Depp trial, a total fake”.

A woman stands on a green lawn with out of focus heritage buildings and autumn leaves in the background
Tasmanian Greens leader Cassy O’Connor has apologized for hurt and confusion her comments caused.(ABC News: Loretta Lohberger)

Ms O’Connor withdrew the comment after Ms O’Byrne raised a point of order, saying she took personal offense to the comment.

In her apology posted on Twitter, Ms O’Connor also said:

“I acknowledge the trial & verdict have been weaponized by those who hate women, abusers, & hard right elements. To have a world that is safer for women and children, & all vulnerable people, we have to maintain the just rage against those forces , as I have throughout my life.

“To victim-survivors, and those who represent them, as well as Greens supporters, I am sorry not to have bitten my tongue in this instance. I had watched too much of the trial. I hope my record of advocacy and law reform over the past 14 years will, ultimately, speak for itself.”

Portrait of Clementine Ford staring into camera in a garden.
Clementine Ford described Ms O’Connor’s comments as “a terrible slap in the face to Tasmanian victim-survivors”.(Supplied: Allen and Unwin (Sarah Enticnap))

Shortly before Ms O’Connor apologised, feminist writer Clementine Ford weighed in, saying it was “concerning to see the leader of the Tasmanian Greens … coming out so hard” in support of Mr Depp.

“What a terrible slap in the face to Tasmanian victim-survivors,” Ms Ford tweeted.

Kathryn Fordyce, the chief executive of northern Tasmanian sexual assault support service Laurel House, said it was “regrettable” that Ms O’Connor weighed into commentary about Ms Heard.

“She is a woman with a leadership role and a very public profile and comments that make it more difficult for victim-survivors, or for anyone, to talk openly about their experiences of family and sexual violence is concerning,” Ms Fordyce said.

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