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Amber Heard is currently entrenched in a defamation lawsuit brought against her by her ex-husband Johnny Depp, but the actress is also still trudging muddy waters in Australia.
The country’s local authorities recently confirmed they’re still investigating whether she allegedly committed perjury for illegally bringing her dogs into the country without declaring them for quarantine, and a legal expert is weighing in on what could’ve changed for Heard in the incident.
The serious offense alleges the “Aquaman” star, 36, lied under oath “during court proceedings for the 2015 illegal importation of (her) two dogs into Australia,” a spokesperson for Australia’s Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE) told Fox News Digital on Thursday.
The department stipulates that foreign pets must be quarantined for 10 days when first brought into the country, and they reckon Heard knew of the stringent policy but allegedly disregarded it anyway by smuggling them into the land down under.
“”The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (department) is investigating allegations of perjury by Ms Heard during court proceedings for the 2015 illegal importation of (her) two dogs into Australia,” the spokesperson said, which was first reported by Newsweek. “As the matter is ongoing, the department cannot make any further comment.”
The investigation was first revealed last October with the department stating that it “is seeking to obtain witness statements and once obtained, the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions will consider whether the evidence is sufficient to warrant pursuance of the matter.”
A rep for Heard did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
In 2015 – while Heard and the “Pirates of the Caribbean” star, 58, were still an item – she brought the couple’s two Yorkshire terriers, Boo and Pistol, to Australia and claimed that Depp’s assistant Kevin Murphy was to make the necessary arrangements to have the dogs properly admitted, according to a court declaration by Murphy.
No preferential treatment
Johnny Depp and Amber Heard arrive at Southport Magistrates Court on April 18, 2016, in Gold Coast, Australia. Heard had faced two counts of breaching Australia’s quarantine laws by allegedly bringing in her pet dogs Pistol and Boo on a private jet in May 2015. (Photo by Matt Roberts)
Depp’s assistant allegedly informed Heard that taking the dogs to Australia would violate its rules on protecting biosecurity from foreign entities. Heard allegedly made a false statement on her immigration card when she reportedly checked “no” to the question of importing anything into the country that should have been declared.
“Just because he’s Johnny Depp does not mean he’s exempt from Australian law,” Barnaby Joyce, the agriculture minister at the time, said in a news conference back in May 2015. “There is 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 that Pistol and Boo buggered off back to the United States.”
The worldwide incident resulted in the ex-pair releasing an apology video and Depp hiring a private jet to fly Boo and Pistol back to Los Angeles for their safety to which Deputy Prime Minister Joyce tweeted, “Dogs gone.”
Celebrity lawyer Chris Melcher, partner of Walzer Melcher – who is not involved in the Australia investigation nor the Stateside defamation trial — explained what went down in Australia in his estimation from a legal perspective.
“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 the assistant had obtained the proper clearance,” Melcher explained to Fox News Digital.
“The assistant, Kate James, had previously been fired and did not provide a declaration attesting to Amber’s story. So Amber presented the declaration of another assistant, Kevin Murphy, who attested that it was Ms. James’s fault. With that declaration in hand, Amber negotiated a deal with the Australian court where she pled guilty to presenting a false document (the arrival form) and received a warning.”
Fans of Actor Johnny Depp and Yorkshire terriers show support for the actor outside court during the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard civil trial at Fairfax County Circuit Court on April 25, 2022, in Fairfax, Virginia. (Photo by Chris Kleponis/Consolidated News Pictures)
However, “Mr. Murphy has since come forward and stated that he lied in that declaration. It was Mr. Murphy [who] tried to clear the dogs for travel and told Amber that he could not complete the process and that the dogs could not fly,” the attorney added of Murphy’s 2020 admission during proceedings at London’s High Court for a separate case.
Melcher pressed to Fox News Digital that based on Murphy’s own admission that he lied in the declaration he provided to the court, the Australian government could come down with harsh penalties for Heard.
“If his new statement is believed, the Australian government can charge Amber with the crime of subornation of perjury or for perverting justice, which carry prison sentences of 7 to 14 years,” Melcher explained. “Because of the severity of these offenses, there is no time limit to when the charges can be filed.”
Heard was initially hit with criminal charges for the illegal importing of animals and knowingly producing a false or misleading document – which carried a potential of 10 years in prison. Heard ultimately pleaded guilty and paid a $1,000 fine.
Meanwhile, Depp and Heard released a statement on the importance of respecting Australian law and “declaring everything,” which many said had the makings of a “hostage video.”
Admission of guilt
“There is a strong reason for the Australians to bring charges. Not only did Amber threaten Australia’s biosecurity by bringing Boo and Pistol illegally into the country, the court was fooled into granting her leniency based on Mr. Murphy’s declaration,” Melcher added.
Furthermore, Heard later named her new dog “Barnaby Joyce” after the deputy prime minister of Australia had publicly told her dogs to “bugger off back to the United States.”
At the time, Joyce said he was “fine” with the moniker, noting: “I get a real sense of accomplishment that I’m still in her head long after I’ve forgotten about them,” he said.
However, Melcher believes the act on the part of Heard “adds further insult” since Joyce “excoriated the couple for bringing the dogs without proper clearance.”
Meanwhile, in the U.S. defamation case involving Heard and Depp, the trial is in day 20 with the defense presenting its case. Heard’s sister, Whitney, her former best friend Raquel Pennington, as well as actress and Depp’s ex-fling Ellen Barkin have all testified on Heard’s behalf.
Closing arguments are expected to begin on Friday, May 27.