Sam Fender has apologized after sharing a photo of himself with Johnny Depp in a Newcastle pub and describing the actor as a “hero”.
The musician was pictured alongside Depp and musician Jeff Beck, who has welcomed Depp on stage during a number of recent UK gigs.
Fender shared the photo on his Instagram stories page alongside the caption: “some serious heroes”. He later appeared to delete the image.
The photograph was shared on the night that the verdict was delivered on Depp’s high-profile legal battle with ex-wife Amber Heard.
In a new Instagram post, Fender addressed his photograph with the Pirates of the Caribbean star, describing the message as “naive and disrespectful”.
“I want to apologize,” he wrote. “I was invited to briefly meet a musical legend and an actor who has been in almost every film I’ve watched growing up.
“I went – we chatted music and without thinking I took a photo and posted it as it was pretty surreal.”
He said the word “heroes” was used in reference to Depp and Beck’s careers, but conceded that the context of the trial made it “severely misinformed”.
Fender continued: “I now realize that it was a poor choice of words and timing, but that’s irrelevant. It was naive and disrespectful to those who relate to any of the issues highlighted in the trial and the broader issues it poses. I didn’t think it through and I should have.
“I can’t really say anything other than that it was ill-judged and I was ignorant with regards to the trials as a whole, and thoughtless on what my post could imply. I realize this entirely and for that, I am deeply sorry. Sam.”
Depp sued Heard for $50m (£39.8m) over a Washington Post op-ed titled: “I spoke up against sexual violence – and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change.”
The article does not mention Depp by name, yet his lawyers said it falsely implies he physically and sexually abused Heard while they were together.
Heard countersued for $100m (£80.9m), accusing Depp of orchestrating a “smear campaign” against her and describing his lawsuit as a continuation of “abuse and harassment”.
On Wednesday (1 June), the jury shared their verdicts, finding that Heard had defamed Depp on all three counts.
The jury found that Heard defamed Depp on all three counts and awarded him $10m (£8m) in compensatory damages and $5m (£4m) in punitive damages. Heard was awarded $2m (£1.6m) in compensatory damages, but no punitive damages.