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June, 2

Sam Fender criticised for hanging out with Johnny Depp as fans use his song to share abuse stories on TikTok

Sam Fender has drawn criticism for hanging out with Johnny Depp months after one of his songs went viral on TikToK, which fans used to share their experiences of domestic abuse and mistreatment.

The North Shields-born singer-songwriter was seen drinking with the Hollywood actor and rock musician Jeff Beck at the Bridge Tavern pub on Newcastle Quayside on Wednesday. He posted a picture of the group to his Instagram Stories with the text “some serious heroes”.

Depp, 58, had appeared on stage days before with Beck at the Royal Albert Hall while awaiting a US jury’s verdict in his libel case against his former wife Amber Heard. He was spotted with Fender and Beck on Wednesday moments after a seven-person jury ruled that Heard defamed him in a 2018 Washington Post op-ed article in which she described her experience with domestic abuse, awarding him £10m in damages.

While some fans expressed their excitement at the group drinking together, others were disappointed with Fender following the association his song “Seventeen Going Under” had gained with abuse victims.

The song, which reached No. 3 in the UK singles chart last year, includes the lyrics: “I was far too scared to hit him/But I would hit him in a heartbeat now/That’s the thing with anger/It begs to stick around.”

Many fans had shared TikTok videos using the track that showed then-and-now photos of their abuse – some sharing harrowing images depicting bruises and injuries. At the time, Fender said he was “honoured” that the song has resonated with people, and he added links to resources and helplines for domestic abuse.

But after photos of Fender and the Pirates of the Caribbean star emerged on Wednesday, one person said: “By posting this, Fender might as well be sticking two fingers up at every woman and/or abuse victim he’s ever performed to.”

Another person said: “Sam Fender writing a song that millions of female abuse survivors have used, and he’s in a pub with Johnny Depp on the day of his verdict? Very odd behaviour.”

One Twitter user added: “Sam Fender’s song has been trending on TikTok with [people] posting their ab*se stories and now he’s at the pub with Johnny?? Make it make sense.”

Fender has not yet commented on the criticism.

Video footage later showed Depp, flanked by security guards, greeting cheering fans as he left the pub and got into a chauffeur-driven car.

The court in Fairfax, Virginia, said Depp will be awarded compensatory damages of $10m (£7.9m) and a further $5m (£3.9m) in punitive damages, after he originally filed the lawsuit seeking $50m (£39.8m).

However, the jury partly upheld Heard’s counter claim following statements from his legal team referring to her claims as a “hoax” and suggesting she had “set up” Depp by fabricating a complaint to the police.

She was awarded $2m (£1.6m) in punitive damages.

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