Elon Musk could face legal action after calling British diver who helped Thai cave rescue a 'pedo'

Vernon Unsworth had called Musk's offer of submarine for rescue effort a 'PR stunt'

Adam Withnall
Monday 16 July 2018 10:10 BST
Thailand cave diver Vern Unsworth says Elon Musk can 'stick his submarine where it hurts'

Elon Musk could face legal action after referring to a British cave diver who played a key role in the Thai rescue operation as a “pedo”.

The billionaire Tesla and Paypal founder published two tweets on Sunday night describing Vernon Unsworth as “pedo guy” without offering any evidence, and then betting someone “a signed dollar it’s true”.

It comes after Mr Unsworth, a 63-year-old volunteer who played a key role in the mission to rescue 12 boys and their football coach last week, said that Mr Musk’s offer of a miniature submarine to save the boys was nothing more than a “PR stunt”.

Mr Musk directed his Space X company to develop a 5’6’’ rigid device that could protect the boys and provide them with oxygen while they were being extracted from the Tham Luang caves.

But the entrepreneur has become increasingly defensive since Thai officials declared the submarine “not practical” to navigate the narrow, winding and jagged-edged passageways making up part of the cave system.

Mr Unsworth, who runs a diving company in Chiang Rai and whose knowledge of the Tham Luang caves and network of contacts proved vital to the rescue effort, said in an interview that Mr Musk’s submarine “had absolutely no chance of working” and that the inventor could “stick his submarine where it hurts”.

Mr Musk replied by questioning the involvement of “this British expat guy” and promising to produce a video showing how his submarine could have saved the boys, adding: “Sorry pedo guy, you really did ask for it.” The tweets have since been deleted.

Asked by reporters at the cave site what his reaction was to Mr Musk’s tweets, Mr Unsworth said he was “astonished and very angry”. He said he had not read the tweets himself, but been told about them. “I believe he’s called me a pedophile,” Mr Unsworth, 63, told the The Guardian. “I think people realise what sort of guy [Mr Musk] is.”

And asked if he would take legal action against Mr Musk over the “pedo” allegation, Mr Unsworth said: “If it’s what I think it is, yes.” He told the AFP news agency he would make a decision on what to do when he flies back to the UK this week, after helping with the clean up operation. He added that the episode with Mr Musk “ain’t finished”.

The Thai cave rescue came to a dramatic conclusion last Tuesday night, when an international team of rescuers escorted the last group of boys and their 25-year-old coach out of the caves after an 18-day ordeal.

One volunteer diver, former Thai navy Seal Saman Kunan, died after he fell unconscious while replenishing the oxygen supply in the cave. The rescued boys, all of whom are recovering well in hospital, were only recently told of the diver’s death during their rescue.

Images showed the boys mourning Mr Kunan in hospital on Sunday. A health ministry spokesman said they observed a minute of silence for the former Seal. “They also thanked him and promised to be good boys,” the spokesman said.

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