Published: Fri, December 06, 2019
Markets | By Otis Pena

Elon Musk says British diver's 'PR stunt' insult provoked 'pedo guy' tweet

Elon Musk says British diver's 'PR stunt' insult provoked 'pedo guy' tweet

Vernon Unsworth, a caving expert from Hertfordshire, had suggested Mr Musk "stick his submarine where it hurts" in an interview with CNN about both men's involvement in the rescue of a Thai football team from a flooded cave previous year.

The Tesla CEO is being sued by Vernon Unsworth, who was part of the team responsible for saving a group of 12 Thai soccer players from a cave in 2018 but who Musk called a "pedo guy" after he criticized him.

Musk said he deleted the tweet within hours and apologized on Twitter two days later.

Musk was the first witness called to testify in the lawsuit brought against him by British cave diver who gained fame for his lead role in the rescue of 12 boys and their soccer coach from a flooded cave in Thailand a year ago.

The spat began when Unsworth ridiculed Musk's effort to help in the rescue by having engineers at his companies, including Space X and The Boring Co., develop a mini-submarine that could transport the boys.

An offended Musk took to Twitter and lashed Unsworth in a series of tweets, including calling him "pedo guy".

"It was wrong and insulting and so I insulted him back", he stated.

"It was an unprovoked attack on a good-natured attempt to rescue the kids", Musk, wearing a black go well with and darkish tie, advised the courtroom Tuesday.

"I assume he did not mean to sodomise me with a submarine".

Lawyers for Musk have said the tweets were opinion, not statements of fact, and that Unsworth knew of no one who thought he was a pedophile based on them.

When Wood asked Musk whether he should choose his words carefully, Musk replied, "There are a lot of things I say, and not all of them have the same quality of thought. not everything can be thoughtful".

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Now, Unsworth claims that Musk should pay punitive and other damages for harming his reputation.

Musk and Tesla reached a $40 million settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission a year ago on allegations he misled investors with a tweet declaring he had secured financing to buy out the electric vehicle maker.

At one point, when the lawyers were getting in the weeds of a following Twitter exchange, Musk, seemingly frustrated, noted that people say falsehoods on Twitter "all the time".

Musk was questioned by Unsworth's lawyer Lin Wooden about feedback made by the caver, who had stated the custom-built machine would by no means have match within the cave and instructed that Musk may "stick his submarine where it hurts".

Wood also cited Musk's email to the Buzzfeed reporter as further evidence of his defamation.

Unsworth later told CNN that offer was a PR stunt.

Mr Unsworth is seeking unspecified damages for pain, suffering and emotional distress from the tech entrepreneur whose net worth exceeds $US20 billion. Despite working around the clock to build the sub, Musk arrived in Thailand late in the rescue effort and the craft was never used.

And in a fresh twist, Elon Musk acknowledged paying $52,000 (£40,000) to a man who had posed as a private detective to dig up information on Unsworth after it became clear he would be sued.

One man was quickly excused after saying he was interviewing for a job with Tesla, while two women were dismissed after saying they followed Musk's tweets and could not be impartial.

According to the BBC, US District Judge Stephen Wilson has denied the defence's request to define Unsworth as a "public figure" - meaning lawyers for Unsworth do not have to prove Musk acted with "actual malice", lowering the bar necessary to win the case.

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