‘Strange he hasn’t sued me’: Elon Musk reignites storm over ‘pedo’ claims against UK cave diver

Musk was responding to another critic on Twitter on Tuesday night when he appeared to reaffirm the accusation’

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 30 August, 2018, 12:19am
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 August, 2018, 7:44am

Elon Musk appears to have doubled down on his claim that a British cave diver who was instrumental in freeing a group of Thai boys trapped in a cave is a “pedo”.

The Tesla CEO was widely criticised last month for making the unfounded allegation against Vernon Unsworth, who was part of an international team that freed the young footballers and their adult coach from the Tham Luang cave complex in northern Thailand.

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Unsworth had criticised a mini-submarine that Musk had delivered for the rescue as impractical and said he could “stick [it] where it hurts”. Musk responded by calling Unsworth a “pedo guy”, later tweeting: “Bet ya a signed dollar it’s true.” He deleted both tweets soon after.

He has never presented any evidence for the allegation nor claimed to have any.

He apologised for the remark last month after Unsworth threatened to sue, Tesla shares dived and the company’s investors issued an open letter demanding Musk apologise.

Musk was responding to another critic on Twitter on Tuesday night when he appeared to reaffirm the accusation. “You don’t think it’s strange [Unsworth] hasn’t sued me? He was offered free legal services,” he wrote.

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“Did you investigate at all? I’m guessing answer is no. Why?” he wrote in subsequent tweets that are still online.

Unsworth told Sky News on Wednesday that he could not comment on Musk’s latest tweets, but added: “It’s all being dealt with, that’s all I can say.”

Musk has been under pressure from Telsa investors over his erratic behaviour on social media.

His return to Twitter, coming just days after abandoning a plan of taking Tesla private, is likely to renew concerns about the entrepreneur’s impulsiveness.

He told The New York Times this month the past year had been “excruciating” and the “most difficult and painful of my career”, claiming he had been working up to 120 hours a week and neglecting his health and family.

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While the latest communiqués avoided any reference to the troubled car company, his August 7 “funding secured” tweet indicating he had raised billions needed to take Tesla private at US$420 a share triggered the US Securities and Exchange Commission to intensify a pre-existing investigation into firm’s public pronouncements on vehicle production forecasts and two class-action investor lawsuits.

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The tweet caused Tesla’s share price to surge 11 per cent, hurting the short-selling investors whose return depends on the company losing value.

Lawyers have warned the tweet may have broken a law that bans public companies from announcing plans to buy or sell securities if executives do not intend or do not have the means to complete the deal, or if they are trying to manipulate the stock price.

Shares of the car maker have fallen 20 per cent from the high of US$387.46 to around US$308. They continued to drop lightly in early trading in New York on Wednesday.