Elon Musk’s lawyer says no harm in being labeled a ‘pedo’

British cave diver Vern Unsworth, at left, and American tech visionary Elon Musk, at right. Original images: Wikimedia Commons

Elon Musk caused no damage to the “unknown” diver who played a pivotal role in last year’s Thai cave rescue saga by calling him a pedophile, the American billionaire’s lawyer has argued in a new court filing.

Days after a judge in Los Angeles ordered that Musk must stand trial for defamation charges the LA Times reports that his attorney said Vernon Unsworth, a British expat living in Thailand, wasn’t at all harmed by being branded “pedo guy” on social media in comments that drew global attention.

“The formerly unknown Mr. Unsworth remains the utterly undamaged Mr. Unsworth,” attorney Alex Spiro wrote.

Musk's original, now-deleted tweet from July 2018.
Musk’s original, now-deleted tweet from July 2018.

Spiro also said Musk’s statement was legally protected speech because at least some if not all of it was true – though he didn’t specify what that was. He also made this classic legal argument to the court: Unsworth started it.

Musk got salty at Unsworth after the latter accused him of seeking publicity by announcing he would build a miniature submarine to fish the boys and coach from the cave. Which it basically was, given the fact the submarine had no chance of navigating the actual Tham Luang cave complex.

Last year, Unsworth, who had helped map the cave for rescuers, told reporters Musk should stick the sub where the sun doesn’t shine, prompting Musk, who’s shown the emotional intelligence of a toddler on social media, to brand him a “pedo guy” to his 20-million-plus followers.

While the presumption of innocence is sacrosanct in this and all cases, it’s difficult to imagine any defamation claims with greater merit.

Unsworth is seeking over US$75,000  (THB2.4 million) in damages. The trial is set for Oct. 22.

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