The UK’s High Court has ruled that Dr. Craig Wright, the man who claims to have invented Bitcoin, put forward false evidence as part of his latest defamation court battle, and awarded him only £1 ($1.23) in damages as a result.
Judge Martin Chamberlain wrote in his judgment that Wright’s original case, against podcaster Peter McCormack, had been “deliberately false.”
Prior to the trial, Wright claimed he had been disinvited from various academic conferences and events after McCormack sent several tweets asserting that Wright was not the mysterious inventor of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakomoto, but a “fraud.”
McCormack then filed evidence from the organizers of some of the events concerned, disputing Wright’s claims.
Wright then changed his case, withdrawing significant amounts of the evidence he had earlier submitted, claiming that the errors were inadvertent. Judge Chamberlain rejected this explanation as untrue.
Although the judge also found that McCormack’s tweets had caused serious harm, even without evidence of retracted invitations from academic conferences, he took the false case into account when making his judgment and granted Wright damages to the tune of just £1.
The judge added that the false case warranted “more than a mere reduction” in damages, and concluded that it was “unconscionable” for Wright to receive anything more than a nominal amount.
McCormack, Wright celebrate winning case
Responding to the judgment on Twitter, McCormack said he and his legal team were “very pleased” with the judge’s findings.
As some of you will now have seen, the judgement in my trial v Dr. Craig Wright has now been handed down.
I want to thank my lawyers for their diligent work on the case.
I also want to thank Mr Justice Chamberlain for this result. We are very pleased with his findings.
— Pedro ☠️ (@PeterMcCormack) August 1, 2022
Wright’s lawyers at Ontier LLP also welcomed the ruling, in so far as it found that McCormack’s statements had caused Wright reputational damage.
Wright himself said in the same press release that he planned to appeal the ruling on the basis that his Aspergers Syndrome, a form of autism, had not been taken into account.
“As anticipated, bit by bit the independent courts across various jurisdictions, including those with juries with the benefit of an examination of all the evidence, are concluding I am who I have admitted I am, since I was outed as Satoshi by media in 2015,” he said. “However too little regard is paid to the impact my Aspergers has in my communications. I intend to appeal the adverse findings of the judgment in which my evidence was clearly misunderstood.”
Wright added that he would carry on his legal battle until the “harmful attacks designed to belittle [his] reputation stop.”
He also said in the trial that his autism meant he found it hard to lie and that it caused him not to explain matters fully.
But Chamberlain said in his judgment that, while he had borne this in mind, evidence in Wright’s first witness statement was “not merely inadequately or infelicitously explained” but false.
Unpacking Wright’s claims to fame
Despite the circulation of numerous theories as to Satoshi Nakamoto’s identity, no one has ever been confirmed as the creator of Bitcoin.
Wright was singled out as the person most likely to be Satoshi in a Wired article from 2015, but the publication later wrote that it was possible he faked the clues that implicated him.
He has nonetheless continued to assert that he is the inventor of Bitcoin, and used English libel law to take people who dispute this to court. The case against McCormack is one of five lawsuits launched by Wright in 2019 against leading crypto figures who had called him a fraud. One was abandoned, one dropped, and one dismissed.
Proceedings against the pseudonymous Twitter personality Hodlonaut are still ongoing after the High Court rejected an attempt by Hodlonaut—real name Magnus Granath—to have the case thrown out in May this year.