LOS ANGELES – SpaceX owner and Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed that he hired a private investigator for US$50,000 to back up his assertion that a Briton was a “pedo guy.”
Musk has asked a US judge to throw out a lawsuit brought on by, Vernon Unsworth who resides in Chiang Rai, Thailand. Unsworth is accusing the chief executive officer of Tesla and Space Exploration Technologies of defamation.
“By referring to Mr Unsworth as ‘pedo guy,’ I did not intend to convey any facts or imply that Unsworth had engaged in acts of pedophilia,” Musk said in a court filing on Monday.
“Pedo guy was a common insult used in South Africa when I was growing up.
It is synonymous with ‘creepy old man’ and is used to insult a person’s appearance and demeanor, not accuse a person of pedophilia.”
Musk revealed that one of his trusted aides commissioned a private investigator to conduct an investigation of Unsworth on Musk’s behalf.
The private investigator reported back that Unsworth had been traveling to Thailand since the early 80s.
“The investigator reported that Mr Unsworth frequented Pattaya beach which is well known for prostitution and sex tourism.
Stating that Mr Unsworth was unpopular at the rescue site because other rescue workers thought he was ‘creepy.’” Musk’s lawyers said in the filing.
Musk’s legal team asked the judge to dismiss the case before a scheduled Dec 2 trial. Arguing that a BuzzFeed article about his tiff with Unsworth and tweets don’t meet the legal standard of defamation.
Musk Email Reporter at BuzzFeed a controversial news site in the US
They asked the judge to treat Unsworth as a “public figure” for purposes of the case. Arguing Unsworth must meet a higher-than-ordinary level of proof; that Musk either knew his statements were false or that he was reckless in making them.
Mr Unsworth cannot establish a case just because Mr Musk insulted him on Twitter and sent an email to a reporter. The US Constitution does not allow that they wrote in the court filing.
In April, a federal judge in Los Angeles rejected Musk’s request to dismiss Unsworth’s defamation case.
The spat between the two erupted after Unsworth dismissed the mini-sub that Musk’s SpaceX had built. The sub was to aide the rescue of 12 Thai boys trapped in Tham Luang cave in Chiang Rai.
Unsworth told CNN that the mini-sub, was a “PR stunt” and Musk could stick his submarine where it hurts. The mini-sub was proven to be impractical and never used in the rescue.
Mr Musk hit back, raging to his 22 million Twitter followers: “Sorry pedo guy, you really did ask for it.”
To date nothing suggest Mr Unsworth, who played a vital role in the rescue, was ever involved in pedophile.
Unsworth was appointed MBE at Buckingham Palace for his role in the Thai cave rescue. An MBE is one of five classes of appointment to the Order Of The British Empire. It stands for Member Of The Most Excellent Order Of The British Empire.
Earlier this year His Majesty the King has awarded 187 people, including 115 foreigners, with The Most Admirable Order of the Direkgunabhorn for the rescue of the Mu Pa football team.