One of the British divers who helped to rescue the 12 Thai school boys trapped in a flooded cave is threatening to sue entrepreneur Elon Musk after the South African branded him a “pedo” on Twitter.
In a series of astonishing Tweets, Musk labelled Vernon Unsworth, 63, a pedophile and said that he didn’t see the British expat ‘anywhere near’ the caves during his visit to the rescue site. When one Twitter user responded to the initial claim by stating that Musk was “calling the guy who found the children a pedo”, the billionaire entrepreneur responded with “Bet ya a signed dollar it’s true.”
Although both tweets have since been deleted, Unsworth says that he has kept records of the original statements, which will have been accessible not only to Musk’s 22.3 million Twitter followers but also media outlets and members of the public around the world.
The British cave diver remarked that the allegations were a smear on the entire rescue crew.
“I believe he’s called me a pedophile,” he said. “I think people realise what sort of guy [Musk] is.”
When asked if he would consider taking legal action against Musk, Unsworth told reporters: “Yes, it’s not finished.”
Unsworth added that he believed Mr Musk had “lost the plot”.
“I have a lot of support from people around the world astonished by his unfounded comments,” he said.
Mr Unsworth was one of the first people on the scene in Mae Sai when the Wild Boars football team and their coach became trapped in a network of flooded caves on 23rd June. The Thai authorities have stated that the British rescuer’s knowledge of cave systems, as well as his contacts in the caving network community, was crucial in locating the football team and ensuring their eventual rescue.
The South African-born entrepreneur had apparently become riled at public criticism of his proposed submarine project, particularly a remark made by Unsworth that Musk could “stick his submarine where it hurts” and that his offer to help with the rescue was just a “PR stunt.”
Musk responded with a series of disparaging Twitter remarks which culminated in the smear against Unsworth late last week.
Elon Musk has previous form when it comes to petty outbursts on social media – in the past he has admitted to losing his temper and responding in an irresponsible way to criticism of himself or his companies. He recently stated: “I have made the mistaken assumption – and I will attempt to be better at this – of thinking that because somebody is on Twitter and is attacking me that it is open season. That is my mistake. I will correct it.”
However, it’s unclear how his investors will react to the most recent slur against Unsworth. James Anderson is a partner at Baillie-Gifford, which is Tesla’s fourth-largest shareholder. He told The Guardian in an email today that “I intend to convey my – predictable I trust – feelings to the company tomorrow.” Anderson declined to elaborate on what this might mean for his company’s involvement with Mr Musk’s Tesla operation.
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