Self-proclaimed Bitcoin inventor gave ‘deliberately false’ evidence in High Court

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A man who claimed to be the inventor of Bitcoin “deliberately” gave false evidence in a High Court defamation trial, a judge has ruled.

Craig Wright had sued the YouTube blogger Peter McCormack over a series of tweets and a video claiming Mr Wright had lied about creating the cryptocurrency.

Mr Justice Chamberlain awarded Mr Wright just £1 in damages after finding he had put forward “deliberately false evidence” to bolster his libel case against Mr McCormack.

The judge described key parts of the cryptocurrency expert’s case as “straightforwardly false in almost every material respect”.

The trial has centred around the identity of “Satoshi Nakamoto”, the so-called inventor (or inventors) of Bitcoin. Mr Wright alleges that he is Nakamoto, and used the pseudonym to publish an academic paper in 2008 which laid the foundations for cryptocurrency Bitcoin.

The case was brought following a string of tweets from Mr McCormack questioning Mr Wright’s credentials as a cryptocurrency expert. These caused the cancellation of 10 invitations to speak at cryptocurrency conferences during 2019, Mr Wright alleged.

The conferences were due to take place in France, Vietnam, the US, Canada and Portugal.

Yet the blogger called evidence from academics challenging Mr Wright’s claims of being invited to speak publicly about Bitcoin and to have published peer-reviewed papers.

There was also “no documentary evidence to support [Mr Wright’s] case that he had invitations to the conferences.”

Although Mr Wright won all of his detailed claims, the judge ruled that his “original case on serious harm, and the evidence supporting it, both of which were maintained until days before trial, were deliberately false”.

Lawyers for Mr McCormack argued that his tweets were made in “flippant and light-hearted terms” and were in response to posts by Calvin Ayre, a Canadian businessman, “goading others into accusing Dr Wright of being a fraud”.

Mr Wright, who holds a doctorate in computer science, is understood to claim ownership of Satoshi Nakamoto’s hoard of 1m Bitcoins, which is worth about £18bn.

Mined in the earliest days of Bitcoin’s existence, none of the coins has ever been used in a transaction.

Mr Wright said: “McCormack was wrong when he said I am not Satoshi Nakamoto.

“I intend to appeal the adverse findings of the judgment in which my evidence was clearly misunderstood.”

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