We tend to think of free expression as an inalienable right, and are often surprised when certain jurisdictions do not treat it as such. English courts are notoriously generous towards libel claims, which is why suing people in the U.K. for things they said on the internet is practically a form of tourism.

Last week, a Twitter account by the name of @CryptoDevil received a letter from Ontier LLP on behalf of Craig Wright. The letter accuses @CryptoDevil of a “campaign of libel” and references tweets from May 23rd and May 24th in which @CryptoDevil calls out speakers at an upcoming London Blockchain conference featuring Craig Wright. 

The letter to @CryptoDevil then cites high numbers of “likes” and “retweets” as evidence of “serious harm”. However, a closer examination by Hodlonaut shows that, as of May 25th, sixteen of the twenty-two accounts that retweeted @CryptoDevil’s initial tweet were from accounts engaged in promoting Bitcoin SV, a shitcoin supported by Craig Wright and Calvin Ayre. As WizSec Bitcoin Research points out, these accounts may be attempting to amplify the “harm” done to Craig Wright to claim greater damages as a result of defamation.

This is but the latest in a series of defamation cases brought by Craig Wright. Last August, U.K. High Court Judge Martin Chamberlain found that podcaster Peter McCormack caused “serious harm to the reputation” of Craig Wright, based on a series of tweets and a YouTube video. Wright had the burden of showing he had suffered damages, but the court found that his evidence for that was falsified, and thus only awarded damages of one British pound (£1). 

While @CryptoDevil may have felt that he was working in the public interest, libel cases are an imperfect fiat game. In English defamation law, the defendant has the burden of proving that a defamatory statement is true to the satisfaction of the court. The hassle and expense of defending a lawsuit is enough to silence many critics. 

In some cases, international defendants may countersue in their home jurisdictions. This was the case with Hodlonaut, who won a lawsuit against Craig Wright in Norway last October. The Norwegian court ruled that Hodlonaut’s statements were protected by the freedom of speech, although Wright has appealed the ruling.

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