British rescue worker Vern Unsworth, who helped perform a miraculous rescue in Thailand – and who was later labeled a “pedo” on Twitter by Tesla CEO Elon Musk – is examining his legal options and says, regarding responding to Elon Musk’s conduct, “it’s not finished.” He made these statements to The Guardian and to Australian TV when they caught up with him for an in person interview.
Just when we thought the Tesla story over the weekend was going to be that Elon Musk was a top donor for a GOP PAC, Musk one-upped himself and launched what appeared to be a baseless accusation against one of the Thailand cave rescuers, calling him a “pedo” on Twitter over the weekend.
Musk has since deleted the tweet accusing Unsworth of being a pedophile (as well as the tweet in which he doubled down that he would “bet ya a signed dollar it’s true“). For those who missed it, here is a snapshot:
Vernon Unsworth, one of the first people on the scene at the caves in Thailand, wound up being a key figure in helping to free the 12 children and their soccer coach who were trapped after a flood. Most of Twitter ripped Musk for his comments, defending Unsworth and some even joking about Elon Musk’s current love life.
Guy who’s dating a girl 17 years younger than him calls heroic diver who saved children a pedo.
You can’t make this stuff up.
— Zr1Trader (@ZR1Trader) July 15, 2018
Unsworth, in what is becoming a famous CNN interview, told a reporter that Elon Musk’s proposed submarine solution had no chance of working and famously said that Musk could stick his submarine “where it hurts”. We reported days ago that Musk instead lashed out at the commander of the rescue operation after he didn’t use Musk’s idea.
Musk responded to this interview by taking to Twitter over the weekend and calling Unsworth a “pedo guy” in tweets that have now been deleted.
Again, both tweets were deleted during the day on Sunday, but not after the mainstream media – including outlets like Fortune, Esquire and CNN – all picked up Elon‘s erratic behavior and ran stories about it. Here’s two of the headlines Fortune ran with over the last 24 hours:
Up until this morning, nobody had been able to reach Unsworth for comment, but the Guardian finally got through to him and reported today that Unsworth is apparently considering his legal options against Tesla and its CEO for what, at this point, seems to obviously be a defamatory statement.
The Guardian wrote:
A British cave diver who was instrumental in the rescue of 12 children trapped in a northern Thailand cave says he is considering legal action after the inventor Elon Musk called him a “pedo” on Twitter.
Vernon Unsworth told the Guardian on Monday he was “astonished and very angry” at the attack, for which Musk offered no evidence or basis. The billionaire initially doubled down on the comments made on social media, but has since deleted them.
Unsworth told journalists at the cave site, where a clean-up operation is under way, that the remarks about him were an attack on the entire rescue crew.
“I believe he’s called me a paedophile,” he said. “I think people realise what sort of guy [Musk] is.”
Asked if he would consider taking legal action against Musk, he told reporters: “Yes, it’s not finished.”
Unsworth said he had saved copies of Musk’s tweets and believed that the businessman had “lost the plot”, adding: “I have a lot of support from people around the world astonished by his unfounded comments.”
He had not had contact with Musk throughout the rescue operation nor since. “I don’t know the guy, never met the guy, and don’t want to meet the guy,” he said.
The Guardian also sought legal advice, who called the Tweet a “…cast iron case of libel and [Unsworth] will undoubtedly be able to sue.”
Over the weekend, we reported on Musk’s comment as it happened. There was certainly no lack of commentary on Twitter, either.
In addition to that, we also reported that Musk was found to be a top GOP donor on a Republican PAC. We covered the liberal outrage on the topic, as Twitter and Tesla forums were full of individuals claiming that they were going to cancel their Tesla orders as a result of finding out that Elon is, in their eyes, supporting the political enemy.
One thing is for sure, if Elon Musk’s shareholders and board of directors are not getting tired of this behavior, we’re not really sure what they’re looking at. The company’s fourth largest shareholder made it clear that he was going to have some things to say to the company today about Elon’s behavior when he told the Guardian, “I intend to convey my – predictable I trust – feelings to the company tomorrow.”
Usually director and officer insurance for companies requires that the board hold company executives to a certain standard of professionalism. We’re guessing that Tesla’s board is probably having an interesting start to the week this week.
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