ONTIER: High Court Defamation Trial Starts Monday

ONTIER LLP client, Dr Craig Wright, is suing podcaster Peter McCormack over the content of 14 tweets that the defendant published between March and August 2019, and one YouTube interview livestreamed in October 2019, in which McCormack accused Dr Wright of fraudulently claiming to be Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonymous inventor of Bitcoin. This two-day defamation trial is set to determine the single issue of serious harm.

Dr Wright claims his reputation was seriously harmed by McCormack’s repeated disparagement of Dr Wright online and, in particular, by his decrying as fraudulent Dr Wright’s legitimate claim to be the inventor of Bitcoin, the world’s first functioning and successful electronic cash system.

Amongst other things, the court will hear that McCormack’s tweets reached a global audience of millions, with many hundreds of thousands of those publishees likely being in England & Wales (to which Dr Wright’s claim for serious harm is limited).

Some 18 months ago, McCormack abandoned his positive defences of truth, public interest and abuse of process and, following a hearing last year, was denied permission to resurrect parts of those submissions by inserting them into the sole surviving limb of his defence, in which he denies that his publications caused serious harm to Dr Wright’s reputation.

Simon Cohen of ONTIER LLP says:

“This long-running dispute has endured various attempts by Mr McCormack to change course but we are now set to demonstrate to the court the extent of harm caused to Dr Wright by the defendant’s actions. Social media provides no hiding place for libellous comment. In fact its use often exacerbates the harm, given its capacity for the swift and exponential spread of damaging untruths.”

Notes to Editors

This defamation trial is the latest in a series of legal claims issued by ONTIER LLP, on behalf of Dr Wright and his associated entities, to uphold his right to protect his lawfully-held digital assets, his reputation as the creator of Bitcoin and his associated intellectual property:

  • In 2021 ONTIER successfully brought a copyright claim against the anonymous digital currency enthusiast operating under the pseudonym “Cøbra”.
  • ONTIER has recently defeated a strike-out attempt by digital currency enthusiast, Magnus Granath, following Dr Wright’s defamation action, the trial of which will heard by the High Court in late 2023.
  • Last year ONTIER also launched a landmark claim against the developers of BTC, BCH, BCH ABC and BSV to restore control to addresses containing Bitcoin and other digital assets. The defendants’ jurisdictional challenge to this claim is currently being appealed by the claimant, Tulip Trading Ltd (the trust beneficially-owned by Dr Wright and his family).
  • ONTIER is advising companies owned by Dr Wright in their passing off claims against exchanges Kraken and Coinbase, filed in the High Court earlier this month.
  • Dr Wright is also advised by ONTIER on his defence and counter-claim to the Crypto Open Patent Alliance’s (COPA) challenge to Dr Wright’s authorship of the White Paper, which also will likely be heard in 2023.

(23rd May 2022)

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