Craig Wright wins only nominal damages of £1 in bitcoin libel case | Bitcoin | The Guardian
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 that he is Satoshi Nakamoto resulted in a Pyrrhic victory and a tarnished reputation on Monday.
a london high court judge ruled wright had provided “deliberately false evidence” in a libel case and awarded him £1 in damages after he sued a blogger for alleging that his claim to be the elusive nakamoto was fraudulent.
“Because [wright] deliberately presented a false case and knowingly presented false evidence up to days before trial, he will only recover nominal damages,” the Justice Chamberlain wrote.
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wright had sued blogger peter mccormack over a series of tweets in 2019 and a video discussion aired on youtube, in which mccormack said wright was a “fraud” and not satoshi. The judge’s ruling did not cover the question of Nakamoto’s identity because McCormack had previously abandoned the defense of the truth in his case.
wright claimed that his reputation within the cryptocurrency industry had been “seriously damaged” by mccormack’s claims. He said that he had been invited to speak at numerous conferences after successfully submitting academic papers for blind peer review, but 10 invitations were withdrawn after McCormack’s tweets. This included alleged potential appearances at events in France, Vietnam, the United States, Canada, and Portugal.
But McCormack presented evidence from scholars challenging Wright’s claims, which was later dropped from his case at the May trial. Wright later accepted that some of his evidence was “incorrect,” but said this was “inadvertent,” Chamberlain said at his sentencing.
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the judge noted that there was “no documentary evidence” that wright was accepted for a job at any of the conferences identified in the earlier version of his defamation lawsuit, nor that he received an invitation to speak at them except possibly in one, and that any invitation was withdrawn.
wright’s explanation for abandoning this part of his case because the alleged damage to his reputation from the “disinvitations” was outside of england and wales “does not stand up to scrutiny”, the judge added.
concluded: “Dr. Wright’s original grievous harm case and supporting evidence, which stood until days before trial, were deliberately false.”
Mccormack’s lawyers had argued that his tweets were made in “frivolous and light-hearted terms” and were in response to posts by Calvin Ayre, a Canadian businessman, “inciting others to accuse Dr. Wright of being a fraud.” They also claimed that there were “many other people who had posted the same allegations about Wright,” the Chamberlain explained in his ruling.
chamberlain concluded that while the tweets had a “frivolous tone,” they came from “a well-known podcaster and renowned cryptocurrency expert.”
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“were unequivocal in their meaning. many people who read them would have known there was a lively debate about whether dr. wright was satoshi, but some of them must have been influenced by reading mr. mccormack to that debate,” the judge continued.
“It is likely that the fact that he was willing to express his views so brazenly in response to threats of libel prosecution has made those who read them more, not less, likely to believe them.”
But the judge said Wright’s pre-trial case for serious damage to his reputation made it “inconceivable” that he should receive “anything more than nominal damages.”
The judge asked the legal teams of both parties to make presentations on the award of costs.
chamberlain found mccormack’s comments in the video discussion, which included calling wright a “liar” and an “asshole,” to be defamatory, while the video and most of the tweets caused “serious harm” to the wright’s reputation.
in the statement, wright said: “i intend to appeal the adverse conclusions of the ruling in which my evidence was clearly misrepresented. I will continue to pursue legal challenges until these baseless and damaging attacks designed to disparage my reputation are stopped.”
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