EXCLUSIVE: Lawyer in ‘serious’ relationship with Johnny Depp was spotted smiling and chatting with the star during his High Court libel battle more than two years ago
- Joelle Rich, 37, was spotted chatting with Johnny Depp more than two years ago
- Miss Rich was photographed with him during his High Court battle in July 2020
- She was part of the Pirates of the Caribbean star’s legal team during his libel trial
- The mother-of-two is currently reported to be in the process of a divorce
Joelle Rich, 37, who was representing the Pirates of the Caribbean star, was repeatedly seen only inches away from him as they emerged together from the court.
Images taken at the time showed them smiling, chatting and looking relaxed in each other’s company during the actor’s ill-fated court battle in July 2020.
It is not known when their relationship started, but the pictures show they appeared to be on friendly as well as professional terms when Depp, 59, was trying to sue The Sun newspaper for describing him as a ‘wife beater’ in an article.
The lawyer who is reported to be in a ‘serious’ relationship with Johnny Depp was pictured alongside him during his libel battle at London’s High Court more than two-years-ago
Joelle Rich, 37, who was representing the Pirates of the Caribbean star, was repeatedly seen only inches away from him as they emerged together from the court
Ms Rich was part of his legal team in the High Court in her role as a partner for leading London privacy lawyers Schillings whose clients include Prince Harry and wife Meghan.
The mother-of-two is currently reported to be in the process of getting divorced from her financier husband Jonathan Rich.
She is said to be living apart from him, but it is not known when their 11 year marriage turned sour.
Pictures taken on the fifth day of the trial on July 13, 2020, showed Ms Rich seemingly gazing towards Depp as they left the court together with other members of his team including his floppy-haired barrister David Sherborne who was clutching a water bottle.
She was dressed in a short blue dress, holding a black handbag with papers tucked under her arm and her long hair hanging loose as they were snapped by photographers.
Edward Scissorhands star Depp who was in court to deny that he had subjected his wife Amber Heard to domestic violence, walked beside her in a smart grey suit, white shirt, black tie and Aviator style sunglasses.
Images taken at the time showed them smiling, chatting and looking relaxed in each other’s company during the actor’s ill-fated court battle in July 2020
Another picture taken three days later on July 16 on the eighth day of the trial once again showed the pair emerging together from the historic court building.
This time Ms Rich was dressed in a fashionable short black skirt, a matching tailored jacket, with gold shoes and her eyes hidden by dark sunglasses while she held her outsize bag.
The image showed her smiling, alongside Depp who also had a grin on his face while he was stepped out in another light grey suit, paired with a white shirt and a silver and blue patterned tie.
The alleged relationship between Ms Rich and Depp was reported this week by US celebrity and entertainment magazine Us Weekly. An unidentified source who revealed the relationship told the magazine: ‘Their chemistry is off the charts’.
The insider added: ‘It’s serious between them. They are the real deal.’
Depp sued the publishers of the Sun for libel after it published an article in 2018 which stated there was ‘overwhelming evidence’ that he had abused Ms Heard.
He denied the allegations, but lost his battle after a High Court judge, sitting without a jury, ruled that Ms Heard’s evidence of domestic violence was ‘substantially true’.
The verdict was slammed at the time by Depp’s lawyers who described it as ‘perverse’ and ‘bewildering’.
It is not known when their relationship started, but the pictures show they appeared to be on friendly as well as professional terms when Depp, 59, was trying to sue The Sun newspaper for describing him as a ‘wife beater’ in an article
Ms Rich was not part of Depp’s legal team in his separate defamation battle against Ms Heard in the United States which he won in June this year in Fairfax, Virginia. But Us Weekly reported that Ms Rich was present in the Virginia courtroom to provide ‘support’ for Oscar-nominated Depp.
The insider told the magazine: ‘There was no professional obligation for her being there. It was personal.’
It emerged today that Depp is not the only high profile client to have been represented by Ms Rich during her high-flying legal career.
She accompanied Nigella Lawson to Isleworth Crown Court in December 2013 when two of the cookery queen’s former personal assistants were found not guilty of fraud.
Ms Rich, who was an Associate for Schillings at the time, was described as being part of Team Cupcake, providing advice and support to Nigella who gave evidence during the three week trial.
Two sisters Elisabetta and Francesca Grillo were accused of a £685,000 fraud while working for Nigella and her art dealer former husband Charles Saatchi.
The TV cook’s image was tarnished when she was forced during the trial to admit her use of cocaine and cannabis, while Saatchi was labelled a menacing bully.
Ms Rich, who was born Joelle Rashti, is the daughter of wealthy property magnates and grew up in the leafy north London suburb of Mill Hill.
She attended the nearby North London Collegiate School, an independent day school for girls which has a number of famous ex-pupils including Esther Rantzen and Rachel Weisz.
It emerged today that Depp is not the only high profile client to have been represented by Ms Rich during her high-flying legal career, as she was Nigella Lawson’s lawyer
The school in Edgware currently has fees of £22,308 ($25,146) per year. Ms Rich went to Birmingham University in 2003, where she studied law and is thought to have met her future husband Jonathan Rich.
She took a further legal qualification in 2006 after graduating, before starting as a trainee solicitor – and then qualifying – with global legal giant DLA Piper in London where she focused on intellectual property, media, and sport litigation.
Ms Rich joined leading privacy and reputation management lawyers Schillings in 2011 around a month after she married her husband Jonathan at a wedding in Tuscany, Italy.
She was eventually promoted to partner of the law firm which represents the likes of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and actress Emma Watson.
It is believed that she earns more than £250,000 a year. Ms Rich’s biography on the Schillings website says she ‘works to defend [clients’] reputations against false and defamatory allegations in print, online, and on social media.’
Her focus is said to be on guarding her clients’ ‘privacy from unwarranted intrusion and media attention’.
Ms Rich spoke out for Depp in March last year after he was denied permission to appeal.
She told Deadline at the time that she ‘seriously questioned’ the UK judge’s decision, adding that Depp was looking forward to ‘presenting the complete, irrefutable evidence of the truth in the U.S. libel case against Ms Heard, where she will have to provide full disclosure’.
She accompanied Nigella Lawson to Isleworth Crown Court in December 2013 when two of the cookery queen’s former personal assistants were found not guilty of fraud
Ms Rich’s husband trained as an accountant after graduating from Birmingham, working with global consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers before joining corporate finance group Bluebox where he is a director.
Ms Rich and her mother Ava Rashti took part in a feature for a bridal magazine shortly before her Tuscany wedding, partly held in a villa where the film Room With a View was filmed in 1985.
The Merchant Ivory romantic drama based on the EM Forster novel starred Helena Bonham Carter and Julian Sands as young lovers with a supporting cast including Dame Judi Dench and Dame Maggie Smith.
The picture spread in the magazine showed Ms Rich wearing a £10,000 Duchesse-satin wedding dress by Phillipa Lepley, a designer with a bridal store on Fulham Road, South Kensington, and assorted pieces of diamond and gold jewellery worth £20,000.
Her mother also dressed up in a £2000 silk dress by Stewart Parvin, a De Beers diamond ring worth £8,000, diamond and platinum earrings worth £5,300 and £395 Jimmy Choo shoes.
Ms Rich later told another magazine about the wedding, saying: ‘We wanted to get married abroad and decided on Florence as soon as we saw the synagogue. Our venue was a beautiful Tuscan villa where A Room With A View was filmed.’
Ms Rich, who was an Associate for Schillings at the time, was described as being part of Team Cupcake, providing advice and support to Nigella who gave evidence during the three week trial
She went on: ‘It had a huge garden where we could fit the tables and a dance floor.
‘This is important at Jewish weddings as guests like to dance during dinner! ‘The reception was a luxurious Italian banquet.
‘We used gold tableware and furniture and a combination of flowers, herbs and fruit for the table displays. Candles were placed everywhere to ensure a romantic effect.
‘We had 290 guests. Each time I tried to thank them I started to cry and had to be dragged off the stage by my mother.’
Her advice to other brides was: ‘Focus on you and your groom – the reason you’re there in the first place.’
She and Jonathan, now 38, went on to live together in a property worth £1.7 million around the corner from the family home where she grew up.
False rumours had swirled that Depp was in a relationship with another lawyer – 38-year-old Camille Vasquez – who was a part of his team during his defamation trial in Virginia.
Ms Vasquez denied all speculation about a romance with the star – and DailyMail.com later revealed that she was in fact in a relationship with Edward Owen, a British executive for the firm WeWork which rents out office space.
Ms Rich, who was born Joelle Rashti, is the daughter of wealthy property magnates and grew up in the leafy north London suburb of Mill Hill
The graduate of Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles slammed the reports of a romance as ‘sexist’, telling People magazine in June: ‘It’s also an unethical charge being made.’
Ms Vasquez added: ‘It’s unfortunate and it’s disappointing, but at the same time it kind of comes with the territory. I can’t say I was all that surprised.’
Depp sued Ms Heard, 36, in Virginia over a 2018 op-ed she wrote for The Washington Post where she claimed to be a victim of domestic violence.
The jury ruled in his favour in June, and she was ordered to pay him $10.35 million in damages.
Ms Heard was also awarded $2 million in compensatory damages after the jury found that one of Depp’s lawyers had made a defamatory statement about her.
Depp claimed to have lost movie roles over Ms Heard’s accusations that he abused her during their ill-fated and brief marriage which lasted little more than a year.
But after he won the defamation case, he had a career resurgence.
His return to popularity was cemented when he appeared at the 2022 MTV VMAs in a moon suit