A High Court judge has awarded an Australian cryptographer, Craig Wright –who claims to have invented Bitcoin – just £1 in damages, after the academic secured victory in a libel lawsuit against a YouTuber, who said he was lying about having invented the world’s most valuable cryptocurrency.
The award comes after the academic – who claims to be the real person behind the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto – filed a libel case against McCormack in 2019, over a series of comments, made via Twitter and YouTube, casting doubt over Dr Wright’s claims to have invented the cryptocurrency Bitcoin.
Wright’s victory came after McCormack abandoned his original defence – that the claims he had made were substantially true – over concerns he would be unable to cover the costs of fighting the lawsuit in court, after he was informed legal fees on both sides could amount to more than £5m.
Instead, McCormack pivoted his defence against Wright’s lawsuit, by arguing the comments he had made had failed to seriously harm Wright’s professional reputation.
In arguing McCormack’s tweets had caused serious harm to his reputation, lawyers acting on behalf of Wright claimed McCormack’s allegations had led to him being disinvited from conferences in countries across the globe, including events in Istanbul, Seville, and Ho Chi Minh City.
However, the judge later ruled that Dr Wright had submitted “deliberately false” statements concerning the supposed harms he had suffered due to McCormack’s comments, as he determined the self-proclaimed Bitcoin inventor had never in fact been invited to the events he claimed to have been disinvited from.
In reaching a verdict, High Court judge Mr Justice Martin Chamberlain ruled that McCormack’s comments had “caused serious harm” to Wright’s reputation.
Nonetheless, the London judge awarded Wright “nominal” damages of just £1 after ruling the academic had advanced a “deliberately false case” and submitted “deliberately false evidence” regarding the conference invites.
The High Court judge is now set to come to a decision regarding the awarding of costs.
In a tweet, McCormack thanked the High Court judge for his verdict, as he said he and his legal team were “very pleased” with the judge’s “findings”. He added that as the “process is not complete,” he would not be commenting on the case any further.
Acting on behalf of McCormack, a spokesperson for London law firm Reynolds Porter Chamberlain said: “We are very pleased with the findings that the judge has reached. We have no further comment at this stage.”
In a statement, Dr Wright said he intends to “appeal the adverse findings of the judgement” as the academic claimed the judge had “misunderstood” his evidence.
Acting on behalf of Dr Wright, Simon Cohen, from London law firm Ontier LLP, said the firm will be “reviewing the judgement carefully with a view to appealing the interpretation of Dr Wright’s evidence”.