Gregory Maxwell has stated our reporting on an email he sent to Craig Wright in November 2018 damages his reputation and his “ability to engage in business with others.”
The former Blockstream CTO and a former bitcoin protocol dev says the article “fraudulently implicate me in a well known criminal enterprise.”
His argument is that at the time he said the “coingeek article is making up stuff saying that I support him and whatnot.” That part was not included in our article.
Yet it is precisely because he does not support Craig Wright that his offer of assistance was sufficiently newsworthy at the time.
If you recall, in November 2018 Bitcoin Cash (BCH) was in the midst of a very big debate as Craig Wright was chain-splitting to BSV.
In the midst of that argument between BCH and BSV, Coingeek – which is affiliated with Craig Wright or his supporters – published an email that they said was by Gregory Maxwell to Craig Wright. In it, Maxwell says:
“I believe it would be adverse for interests that concern me if your influence or prominence in BCH were in any way diminished. I am not aware of how I could be of aid in repairing this situation, but it seemed to me that it would be prudent to at least offer my discreet assistance,” emphasis ours.
Initially there was doubt this email was from Maxwell, but he confirmed it at the time, stating “I emailed him– because I’m concerned that scammers like Roger Ver finally figured out that faketoshi isn’t convincing anyone anymore.”
As the veracity of the email was confirmed by Maxwell himself, we thought it very fit to let the public know he was offering assistance to someone he had previously called a “fraud.”
In the public comment at the time Maxwell does also say “coingeek article is making up stuff saying that I support him and whatnot.”
We took that to refer to the introductory editorialized paragraph by Coingeek that says among many things Maxwell “has come to the realization that Bitcoin SV is the real Bitcoin.”
Obviously that’s nonsense and is not supported by the email itself, with Maxwell so making it implicitly clear that paragraph was making up stuff.
That paragraph, however, did not in any way influence our reporting of the events. Therefore is not referred to in the article, with the article making it clear Maxwell “believes or claims to believe [Craig Wright] is a fraud.”
That he still offered assistance to someone he believes is a fraud was the news, and that he doesn’t “support” him but was willing to assist was obviously the entire point of reporting on these events.
Interestingly in the email sent to Trustnodes by Gregory Maxwell, or believed to be him as gmaxwell @ gmail.com is an address that was used on the bitcoin mailing list in 2011, he does not deny that he did e-mail Craig Wright, nor does he dispute the content of the email published by Coingeek. He instead complains about us not pointing out in his own words that he does not support Craig Wright. He says under the heading of “False and defamatory claim in article” that:
‘I emailed him– because I’m concerned that scammers like Roger Ver
finally figured out that faketoshi isn’t convincing anyone anymore,
but that coingeek article is making up stuff saying that I support him
Your article truncates the portion of my comment which DIRECTLY
refutes your false allegation. By doing so you fraudulently implicate
me in a well known criminal enterprise damaging my reputation and
ability to engage in business with others.
Please retract or remove the article. I will consider this matter
settled if you do so and also apologize via email for the
Defamation as you might know is a fairly serious civil offense that makes one liable to pay damages for making false statements about an individual.
It’s the law’s way of defending individuals from character assassination and the like, and it is something we often do bare in mind when reporting on events because on a principled basis we agree with the laws on defamation and because it is quite right that reputations are not damaged by false statements.
A complete defense to any defamation claim is, however, truth, primarily because if something they do does have the effect of damaging their reputation, then obviously they deserve their reputation to be damaged.
Truth here includes facts reasonably proven as well as genuine opinions based on facts. The facts here being an email was published, and after debate on authenticity Maxwell says he did email Craig Wright.
In that statement Maxwell does not dispute the contents of the email, meaning in the circumstances one has to take what was published in quotes by Coingeek as coming from him.
One such quote very clearly says “it seemed to me that it would be prudent to at least offer my discreet assistance.”
With those being the facts, we’d be very happy to defend against any defamation claim as it appears quite clear there was no false statement in our article as far as false and truth can reasonably be established by reasonable men and women.
If that offer of assistance is causing Maxwell business problems, then that is something he should have considered before making the offer.
If he wished to dispute he made such offer, or even to leave it vague as to whether he did or not, he could have refrained from admitting he emailed Craig Wright and/or he could have admitted but clarified the quoted parts of the email were incorrect.
In the circumstances, demanding an apology for reporting facts a year later after the event and still not disputing the content of that email suggests any damage to reputation has a full and complete defence.