Winona Ryder has spoken out in defence of her ex-boyfriend Johnny Depp and branded the abuse allegations against him "horrific".

Depp, 57, is suing News Group Newspapers over a 2018 article in The Sun which labelled him a "wife beater" over allegations he was physically abusive to his then-wife Amber Heard.

Depp says the claims are "sick and completely untrue".

The case is being heard at London's High Court, and Ryder had been due to give evidence.

However, Depp's team decided against calling her, along with his former partner Vanessa Paradis, but both their witness statements have been released.

In the court document, Ryder, 48, insisted her realtionship with Depp in the 1990s was "wildly different" to his marriage to Amber Heard, adding: "I do not want to call anyone a liar but from my experience of Johnny, it is impossible to believe that such horrific allegations are true.

"I find it extremely upsetting knowing him as I do.''

Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder dated in the 1990s

They were together for four years and engaged for three during the 1990s after meeting on the set of their movie Edward Scissorhands.

Ryder went on: "I knew Johnny very well years ago. We were together as a couple for four years, and I counted him as my best friend, and as close to me as family. I count our relationship as one of the more significant relationships of my life.

"I understand that it is very important that I speak from my own experience, as I obviously was not there during his marriage to Amber, but, from my experience, which was so wildly different, I was absolutely shocked, confused and upset when I heard the accusations against him."

She called him her 'best friend'
Johnny Depp outside court today

She added the idea that he is an incredibly violent person is the farthest thing from the Johnny I knew and loved".

Ryder insisted he has never been violent towards her and she's never witnessed him being "abusive" to anyone, concluding that he's "a really good man- an incredibly loving, extremely caring guy who was so very protective of me and the people that he loves, and I felt so very, very safe with him."

Depp famously had "Winona Forever" tattooed on his arm during his relationship with Ms Ryder, and following their split, had it changed to "Wino Forever".

Amber Heard has accused Depp of being violent in their marriage - a claim he denies

Johnny Depp libel trial latest

Depp was accused of slapping Heard after she mocked him over the tattoo, something he denied.

The actor has denied he was ever violent towards his ex-wife and has accused her of abusing him during their marriage.

Lawyers for NGN are defending their case based on Heard's 14 allegations of abuse, which include claims of bust-ups between 2013 and 2016.

The actor has argued his ex-wife was abusive towards him during the marriage, which collapsed in 2016.

The case continues.