Musk Refused to Apologise for Calling Thai Cave Diver 'Pedo Guy' as He'd Look Cowardly, Book Says
© REUTERS / Mike BlakeSpaceX owner and Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks during a conversation with legendary game designer Todd Howard (not pictured) at the E3 gaming convention in Los Angeles, California, U.S., June 13, 2019
© REUTERS / Mike Blake
British caver Vernon Unsworth, who was part of the rescue team that saved 12 boys and their soccer coach from a cave in Thailand in 2018, once said that Elon Musk used the tragedy for his own PR, as he sued the Tesla and SpaceX founder for defamation.
Elon Musk refused to apologise for calling British diver Vernon Unsworth, who rescued Thai soccer players trapped in a flooded cave back in 2018, a 'pedo guy' in a tweet as Musk was worried doing so would make him look cowardly, according to a new book, Power Play: Tesla, Elon Musk, and the Bet of the Century by reporter Tim Higgins.
Despite the fact that the heated row sent Tesla's stock plunging more than 3 percent, the tech maverick challenged Unsworth to take him to court, allegedly saying "I f***ing hope he sues me."
The bad blood between Musk and Unsworth started at the height of the 2018 rescue operation in Thailand, when 12 Thai teenagers along with their soccer team coach were trapped in a flooded cave for days. They went missing on 23 June 2018 and were found by rescuers only on 2 July.
At the time, Unsworth, a Thailand resident, was one of the first to discover where the children were in the cave and helped gather an international team of diving specialists. Musk also expressed his willingness to take part in the rescue operation, and together with his team, he designed and sent a mini-submarine to Thailand.
The diver was critical of Musk's public declarations that he could design a mini-submarine to ferry those trapped to safety, and said that it was completely unsuitable for rescuing children, after which the authorities abandoned plans to use the miniature submarine for a rescue operation. Unsworth later called it nothing more than a "PR stunt", suggesting Musk could stick the mini sub "where it hurts".
The Tesla CEO hit out at Unsworth on Twitter, calling the Brit a 'pedo guy' - and was subsequently sued for defamation.
Musk later deleted the post and apologised on Twitter:
"My words were spoken in anger after Mr. Unsworth said several untruths & suggested I engage in a sexual act with the mini-sub, which had been built as an act of kindness & according to specifications from the dive team leader. Nonetheless, his actions against me do not justify my actions against him, and for that I apologise to Mr. Unsworth and to the companies I represent as leader. The fault is mine and mine alone. I am truly sorry if I offended anyone," he said.
However, later, the tech entrepreneur doubled down on his "pedo guy" claim, wondering why Unsworth hadn't sued him.
After the incident, BuzzFeed News published a copy of the email in which Musk called Unsworth "a single white guy from England who's been travelling to or living in Thailand for 30 to 40 years," alleging that he had moved to Chiang Rai "for a child bride who was about 12 years old at the time", adding that the city was "renowned for child sex-trafficking."
Following the move, Unsworth announced that he'd started preparing legal action against Musk for defamation in the courts of Thailand, where Musk could get a jail sentence for his remarks. He also said at the time, that he wants to sue Musk in the courts of Great Britain and the US.
In late 2019, Musk, who grew up in South Africa, claimed that “pedo guy” is commonly used in South Africa to refer to a “creepy old man'' and not literally a "pedophile". He also noted that he used the common affront instinctively after Unsworth insulted him. A federal jury in Los Angeles found the Tesla founder not liable in a defamation case filed by the British cave explorer.