Craig Wright wins ‘only nominal damages’ of £1 in bitcoin defamation case | Bitcoin

For years, Craig Wright has claimed that he is the mythical figure who created bitcoin. But a legal bid by the Australian computer scientist to defend his claim to be Satoshi Nakamoto resulted in a Pyrrhic victory and a tarnished reputation on Monday.

A High Court judge ruled that Wright had given “deliberately false evidence” in a libel case and awarded him £1 in damages after he sued a blogger for claiming his claim to be the elusive Nakamoto was fraudulent.

“Because he [Wright] made a knowingly false case and knowingly presented false evidence until days before trial, he will recover only nominal damages,” Justice Chamberlain wrote.

Wright had sued blogger Peter McCormack over a series of tweets in 2019, and a video discussion posted on YouTube, in which McCormack said Wright was a “fraud” and is not Satoshi. The question of Nakamoto’s identity was not covered by the judge’s ruling because McCormack had previously abandoned a defense of the truth in his case.

Wright claimed that his reputation within the cryptocurrency industry had been “severely damaged” by McCormack’s allegations. He said he had been invited to speak at a number of conferences following the successful submission of academic papers for blind peer review, but 10 invitations had been withdrawn following McCormack’s tweets. This included alleged potential appearances at events in France, Vietnam, the US, Canada and Portugal.

But McCormack submitted evidence from academics challenging Wright’s claims, which were subsequently dropped from his case at the trial in May. Wright later accepted that some of his evidence was “incorrect” but said this was “unintentional”, Chamberlain said in his judgment.

The judge noted that there was “no documentary evidence” that Wright had a paper accepted at any of the conferences identified in the earlier version of his libel claim, nor that he received an invitation to speak at them, except possibly at one, and that the invitation was possibly withdrawn.

Wright’s explanation for abandoning this part of his case because the alleged damage to his reputation from the “disinvitations” was outside England and Wales “does not withstand scrutiny”, the judge added.

He concluded: “Dr Wright’s original case of serious harm, and the evidence supporting it, both of which were maintained until days before the trial, were deliberately false.”

Lawyers for McCormack had argued that his tweets were made in “wacky and light-hearted terms” and were in response to posts by Calvin Ayre, a Canadian businessman, “which led others to accuse Dr Wright of being a fraud”. They also claimed that there were “many other individuals who had posted the same allegations about Wright,” Chamberlain explained in his ruling.

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Chamberlain concluded that while the tweets were “freaky in tone”, they came from “a well-known podcaster and recognized cryptocurrency expert”.

“They were unequivocal in their meaning. Many people who read them would have known that there was a lively debate about whether Dr Wright was Satoshi, but some of them must have been influenced by reading Mr McCormack’s sharply expressed contribution to that debate, continued the judge.

“The fact that he was willing to state his views so boldly in response to threats of libel probably made those who read them more, not less, believe them.”

But the judge said Wright’s pre-trial case over the serious damage to his reputation made it “unconscionable” that he should receive “more than nominal damages”.

Chamberlain found that McCormack’s comments in the video discussion, which included calling Wright a “liar” and an “idiot” were defamatory, while the video and a majority of the tweets caused “serious damage” to Wright’s reputation.

In a statement, Wright said: “I intend to appeal the adverse findings of the judgment where my evidence was clearly misunderstood. I will continue legal challenges until these baseless and damaging attacks designed to tarnish my reputation stop.”

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