Economy

Elon Musk faces trial over ‘pedo guy’ insult to British diver

Elon Musk faces trial over ‘pedo guy’ insult to British diver

The news comes after Vernon Unsworth - who helped in the rescue effort to free the boys from the Tham Luang Nang Non cave system last summer - filed a defamation suit in September over Musk's repeated claims that the diver was a paedophile.

Enigmatic businessman and Tesla CEO Elon Musk faced massive backlash in September after calling British cave explorer Vernon Unsworth a "pedo guy" on his Twitter account, which now has 26.4 million followers.

A federal court judge in Los Angeles set an October 22 trial date in a Friday court filing that rejected Musk's attempt to dismiss a defamation lawsuit filed by British diver Vernon Unsworth. Musk dispatched a small submarine and engineers from Tesla to help save members of a soccer team who were caught by rising water levels in the cave.

Unsworth, was the first foreigner on the scene and played a key role in getting all 13 people out of the cave safely, he reportedly said at the time, quoted by CNN, that Musk's proposal was "just a PR stunt" that "had absolutely no chance of working".

"Never saw this British expat guy who lives in Thailand (sus) at any point when we were in the caves", he tweeted in July.

Texas explorer completes deepest ocean dive in history
Movie director James Cameron - who made the films Titanic and Avatar - then made a dive in 2012 by himself in a bright green sub. He spent four hours exploring the bottom of the trench in his submersible, built to withstand the vast pressure of the deep.

Musk called the diver a "pedo guy" on Twitter, yet later he deleted his tweets and apologized, however, he continued to criticize diver later saying that if the allegations were untrue, why didn't he sue. Musk then compounded the problem by adding "bet ya a signed dollar it's true".

"The significance of the ruling is clear: publication of accusations on Twitter does not provide a safe harbor for defamatory statements that are false and convey that they are factual", Unsworth's lawyer L. Lin Wood said in an email.

Musk contended his insult was protected from legal action, but the judge overseeing the case disagreed.

Musk's defence had asserted that "internet speech is unique", effectively arguing that you can't hold communications online to the same standard as spoken or printed words.

"There is nothing about the context in which the Defendant made the statements-in emails to a specific reporter-that would create doubt as to whether Defendant's statements implied assertions of objective fact", Wilson wrote.