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Johnny Depp case: TMZ journalist gives damning testimony before sparring with Amber Heard lawyer

A former entertainment journalist who worked on assignments related to Amber Heard has given damning testimony to the court hearing the Johnny Depp defamation case, before sparring with Amber Heard’s lawyer.

Morgan Tremaine, who worked for entertainment site TMZ in 2016, used to dispatch paparazzi to various locations based on “tips”.

WATCH IN THE VIDEO ABOVE: TMZ journal testifies in Depp case

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Tremaine told the court that tips were received either through a tip line or directly through news producers in the office.

He said tips were “very often” received from sources, also.

Often those sources would be publicists, managers, agents, “B-list celebrities” or lawyers, he said.

Morgan Tremaine, a former employee of the news organization TMZ testifies. Credit: Evelyn Hockstein/AP

Tremaine testified that tips would be verified by an “extensive process” if they came in through the tip line.

The site would need to verify who felt it, and that the source was true.

The sender would need to fill out a form giving their contact details to assist with this, Tremaine said.

He said the process of verifying a tip would typically take “a while” if it came through the tip line, because extra checks were needed.

“[It took time] if it was media such as photos or videos that would need to be extensively verified to ensure that the person sending it is the copyright holder and that we would have the legal ability to air it and distribute it,” Tremaine said.

Actor Amber Heard listens in the courtroom. Credit: Evelyn Hockstein/AP

Amber Heard and the ‘bruise’

On May 27, 2016, Tremaine recalled working on an assignment regarding Heard.

“Miss Heard was filing a restraining order at a courthouse in downtown Los Angeles so I dispatched camera people to that location,” he testified.

He said cameras would only be dispatched in such a way if the site had been “informed prior”.

“It’s not by any means a celebrity hotspot. We would only ever send people there if we had been tipped off that something was occurring and there was somebody present there,” Tremaine told the court.

“We were trying to capture Amber leaving the courthouse and an alleged bruise on the right side of her face,” he said about that day’s assignment.

Under questioning by Depp’s lawyer Camille Vasquez, Tremaine said the objective that day was to “capture her [Heard] leaving the courthouse and then she was going to, sort of, stop and turn towards the camera to display the bruise on the right side of her face”.

Tremaine said his team of videographers got that shot of Heard.

He told the court that the assignment that day had come from a news producer and that meant “they had verified that tip and it was credible”.

Johnny Depp cabinet video

On August 12, 2016, Tremaine said TMZ received a video showing Depp “slamming some cabinets”, that was captured by Heard.

“The video was sent in through our email tip line which is an email distribution that goes to all the producers and to myself as the field assignment manager because it often included celebrity locations,” Tremaine told the court.

“I received that email and it included a link from some unknown, dropbox-type website.

Actor Johnny Depp testfies. Credit: Evelyn Hockstein/AP

“In that link was the video of Johnny Depp smashing the cabinets,” Tremaine said.

The former reporter said the video was then downloaded and he was instructed to add a translucent watermark on it, “which indicates copyright ownership”.

After that, the video was posted to the TMZ website.

Tremaine testified that, normally, the length of time it took to publish a video depended on who owned the copyright.

“The only way to obtain copyright over media would be if we shot it ourselves, if it was sent to the tip line source-verified that it was from the original copyright owner and then either purchased from that person or given to us and then the third option would be if it was directly given to us by the copyright holder, like a direct source,” Tremaine said.

He said the video of Depp was posted around 15 minutes after he received the email about it.

Tremaine said the version of the video he received was shorter than the version played in court.

He said a part that showed Heard “sniggering” at the end of the video was “not present” in the video he received.

TMZ did not edit the video, Tremaine testified.

Elaine Bredehoft and Morgan Tremaine face off in court. Credit: Court TV

Under cross-examination, Heard’s lawyer Elaine Bredehoft put to Tremaine: “This gets you your 15 minutes of fame doesn’t it?”

Tremaine laughed before replying.

“I stand to gain nothing from this,” he said.

“I’m actually putting myself kind of in the target of TMZa very litigious organisation, and I’m not seeking any 15 minutes here.

WATCH IN THE VIDEO ABOVE: Morgan Tremaine spars with Amber Heard’s lawyer

TMZ journo spars with Amber Heard lawyer.

TMZ journo spars with Amber Heard lawyer.

“You’re welcome to speculate. I could say the same thing about taking Amber Heard as a client, for you.”

“A little argumentative, don’t you think?” Bredehoft responded.

“Hardly, I find that to be purely logical, thank you,” Tremaine retort.

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