The U.K. Court of Appeal has rejected a last-ditch attempt by blogger Peter McCormack to appeal a ruling which had the effect of knocking out all but one key pillar of his defense against a defamation claim made by Dr. Craig Wright. McCormack will now have to face Dr. Wright’s defamation claim at trial in May on the limited basis that though his attacks on Wright were untrue, they nonetheless still failed to cause him serious harm.
In November 2021, the High Court rejected attempts by McCormack to introduce pleadings which the plaintiffs argued (successfully) would amount to McCormack reviving his already abandoned defences to Dr. Wright’s defamation claim, including that of truth. Now, the Court of Appeal has directly refused McCormack’s request for permission to appeal that ruling, confirming that Wright v McCormack will proceed to trial in May 2022 and that McCormack’s legal defense may only argue that though his attacks on Dr. Wright were untrue, they did not cause him serious harm.
McCormack was seeking a retroactive extension of time to allow a late-filed permission to appeal (PTA) November’s ruling to be heard by the Court. In rejecting that request on Friday, the Court found that McCormack has presented no good reason for his delay in filing and that even without the delay, the request would still have been refused on its merits.
The request by McCormack has just the latest in a series of attempts designed to delay or avoid trial at the eleventh hour. McCormack had originally abandoned his defense in October of 2020, only to attempt to resurrect it on the eve of a summary judgment hearing which looked set to resolve the case in Dr. Wright’s favor in November 2021.
However, Court of Appeal made clear that it’s finally time for McCormack to face the music.
“This litigation has already been protracted, and several trial dates have already been lost. The effect of granting [permission to appeal] would be to lose the trial date once again. The remaining issues are relatively narrow, being meaning, serious harm and (if the claimant succeeds on these points) quantum.)”
Simon Cohen, of ONTIER LLP for the plaintiffs, said:
“We welcome the Court of Appeal’s decision today. The Court has clearly taken a dim view of Mr. McCormack’s backdoor attempts at introducing alternative defences to the defamation claim he faces. There can be no further impediments to the trial in May which will determine the extent of serious harm caused to Dr Wright by the defamatory social media posts that Mr McCormack published.”
Perhaps most significantly for McCormack, the rejection only adds to the mounting legal costs that McCormack must front. The total costs will not be determined until trial, but McCormack was required to make an interim payment of £90,000 to Dr. Wright by December 10, having earlier paid £18,500 in relation to another failed attempt to delay discovery in the case. CoinGeek can report that Dr. Wright and his lawyers have yet to receive the now-overdue interim payment of £90,000.
Wright v McCormack is currently scheduled for two days beginning May 24.
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