A British cave skilled has testified that he was left feeling “humiliated, ashamed” and “dirtied” after Elon Musk labelled him “pedo man” on-line.
Vernon Unsworth is suing the Tesla founder for defamation.
The diver, who helped rescue 12 boys trapped in a Thai cave final 12 months, advised a Los Angeles court docket that feedback Mr Musk made had been “very hurtful”.
The pair acquired right into a public confrontation after Mr Unsworth dismissed a suggestion of assist from the billionaire.
The case of the Thai boys, members of a soccer crew who grew to become trapped deep inside a collapse northern Thailand, captured the world’s consideration in June 2018.
Mr Musk despatched Tesla engineers and a small submarine to assist free the boys through the Thai rescue effort – nevertheless it was by no means used.
Mr Unsworth later labelled it a “PR stunt” and recommended the billionaire might “stick his submarine the place it hurts” throughout an interview with CNN.
Mr Musk – who has nearly 30m Twitter followers – responded with a sequence of posts about Mr Unsworth together with one the place he labelled him “pedo man”.
Mr Unsworth’s authorized crew have described Mr Musk’s now-deleted tweet as “vile and false” and are looking for unspecified punitive damages.
US District Choose Stephen Wilson beforehand denied the defence’s request to outline Mr Unsworth as a “public determine” – that means legal professionals for Mr Unsworth wouldn’t have to show Mr Musk acted with “precise malice” to win the case.
What did Mr Unsworth say?
Mr Unsworth, who court docket reporters mentioned appeared on the verge of tears, mentioned he felt Mr Musk had branded him a paedophile.
“It feels very uncooked. I really feel humiliated. Ashamed. Dirtied,” he advised the court docket.
“Successfully, from day one, I used to be given a life sentence with out parole. It hurts to speak about it,” Mr Unsworth mentioned.
He described the tweet as “very hurtful” and mentioned the expertise had left him feeling “very weak” and “very remoted”.
The skilled cave explorer, 64, splits his time between the UK and Thailand. In the course of the rescue, he helped recruit skilled cave divers who had been instrumental in liberating the boys safely.
“I discover it disgusting,” Mr Unsworth mentioned about Mr Musk’s “pedo” remark. “I discover it very arduous to even learn the phrase, by no means thoughts discuss.”
What has Mr Musk mentioned?
The Tesla and SpaceX founder testified throughout two days earlier than Mr Unsworth took to the stand.
Throughout his testimony he apologised once more to Mr Unsworth for the tweets, whereas insisting he posted them “off the cuff” and never in a severe method.
He advised the court docket he had not anticipated the “pedo” tweet to be taken actually and on the time thought Mr Unsworth “was just a few random creepy man” who was “unrelated to the rescue”.
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Mr Musk’s lawyer, Alex Spiro, testified in his opening statements that time period “pedo man” was a standard insult in South Africa, the place the billionaire grew up.
Throughout his testimony Mr Musk additionally performed down different tweets, which had been additionally later deleted, together with one the place he replied “wager ya a signed greenback it is true” to a follower asking in regards to the “pedo” remark.
Mr Musk additionally acknowledged in court docket that he paid $52,000 (£40,000) to a person posing as a personal detective to dig up filth in regards to the British diver after it grew to become clear he can be sued. The investigator turned out to be a conman, Mr Musk mentioned.
Below questioning on Wednesday, Mr Musk estimated his web price to be about $20bn however insisted most of his wealth was held in inventory.
“Generally individuals assume I’ve a number of money. I really do not,” he advised the court docket.