Craig Wright’s ‘Lies and Deception’ Justify Minimal Damages Claim, UK Judges Say

Wright says he is the true identity of Bitcoin founder Satoshi Nakamoto, and took a libel case against crypto podcaster Peter McCormack

AccessTimeIconJul 26, 2023 at 12:32 p.m. UTC
Updated Jul 26, 2023 at 3:16 p.m. UTC
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Craig Wright has failed in a legal bid to gain more than token damages from a libel claim against bitcoiner and podcaster Peter McCormack, relating to Wright’s claim to be Bitcoin inventor Satoshi Nakamoto.

Offering Wright just 1 British pound ($1.29) in compensation was justified in view of the false case Wright advanced, three judges in the London Court of Appeal in London unanimously agreed in a Wednesday ruling.

In an earlier case, High Court Judge Martin Chamberlain was “clearly right to treat Dr Wright’s lies and deception as ‘disreputable facts that are properly before the court’,” Lord Justice Mark Warby said in a ruling dated July 26. “Where the libel was an accusation of dishonesty, the dishonest conduct of the litigation was relevant for that purpose.”

In a statement emailed to CoinDesk, Wright said he was “disappointed that the Court of Appeal has not given due recognition to the damage caused to me by orchestrated online vitriol” which he said had a “severe impact on me and my wellbeing.”

Rupert Cowper-Coles, a Partner at law firm RPC who represented McCormack, told CoinDesk he was "very pleased with the outcome."

"The Court of Appeal's decision to uphold the 1 pound damages award for Dr Wright after finding that he sought to mislead the High Court enshrines in English law an important principle that a claimant won't be compensated for a reputation they don't deserve," Cowper-Coles said in an emailed statement.

Following the judgment, McCormack tweeted that “we must continue with our support for others caught up in this, including our brother Hodlonaut,” referring to another Twitter user who has been sued for libel by Wright.

In an October 2021 judgment, Chamberlain found that McCormack couldn’t prove assertions that Wright was a fraud. The judge awarded Wright only nominal damages, saying he had advanced false evidence, though McCormack was later ordered to pay around 900,000 pounds in legal costs.

In a separate U.K. case, judges ruled on Tuesday that Wright must pay 400,000 pounds in security for legal costs to pursue his claim that crypto exchanges Kraken and Coinbase are breaching his intellectual property by allowing trading in bitcoin (BTC) and bitcoin cash (BCH).

Later Wednesday, a Florida court is set to consider whether Wright has committed contempt of court in a $143 million dispute with former business partner Ira Kleiman, charges which Wright has denied.

UPDATE (July 26, 15:16 UTC): Adds comments from Cowper-Cowles.

Edited by Parikshit Mishra.

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Jack Schickler

Jack Schickler was a CoinDesk reporter focused on crypto regulations, based in Brussels, Belgium. He doesn’t own any crypto.


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