A podcaster who had faced a costs bill running into millions of pounds over a libel claim brought by the fraudster posing as the inventor of bitcoin today secured the court’s help to recover his own costs in the case. Mr Justice Mellor, who earlier this year declared Dr Craig Wright’s 'Satoshi' claim to be based on forgeries and lies granted a worldwide freezing order (WFO) against Wright, who is understood to be in East Asia. 

Mr Justice Mellor

Mr Justice Mellor: 'Real disk of dissipation'

Source: Avalon

The order is the latest fallout from the ruling in COPA v Wright, an action brought by a group of software developers over Wright's claims, which he enforced with litigation in at least three jurisdictions. In one case, Wright successfully sued podcaster Peter McCormack over social media posts and videos claiming Wright was a fraudster. While the damages were reduced to £1 because of Wright's conduct, which included putting forward deliberately false evidence, McCormack was ordered to pay part of Wright's costs. 

Ruling today in Craig Wright v Peter McCormackMr Justice Mellor stated that the defamation claim had been part of a 'mendacious overall campaign' to lay a false claim to bitcoin assets 'worth many billions'. Wright was using the law of defamation to silence anyone who questioned his claim. 'The power of the cause of action in defamation is exponentially increased in the hands of someone like Dr Wright... who signals his intent to spend disproportionate sums in litigation,' the judge said. The costs budgets approved in the case added up to £3.92 million, plus VAT. 

The judge found that McCormack, who was represented by international firm Reynolds Porter Chamberlain, 'has a good arguable case (indeed a very strong case) for recovery of costs in the sum of £1.548m'.

Ruling on the risk of dissipation of assets, the judge said Wright's current whereabouts were unknown. 'The last information available... was that he was in the UTC +7 timezone. I have not been given any further information as to his whereabouts or whether he has left the UK for good,' he said. As a result there remains 'a real risk of dissipation'. 

Granting the freezing order - the latest of several applying to Wright - Mellor said:  'The defamation claim should never have been threatened, commenced or pursued. In these circumstances, our law would be in a sorry and sad state if a litigant in the position of Mr McCormack is not able to recover his costs of having to fight that type of litigation.'