🔒 Elon Musk sued for defamation by British Thai cave rescue diver

By Felicity Duncan

Just in case there was any doubt that Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s Twitter hijinks are ill-advised, consider this: he is now being sued by the British diver whom he repeatedly called a paedophile on the social media platform.

Musk got into a Twitter feud with the diver, Vernon Unsworth, after Unsworth criticised Musk’s proposal for a rescue submarine during the Thai cave crisis, when a group of teenagers got stuck in an underwater cavern. Musk didn’t appreciate Unsworth’s statement that the mini-sub Musk had designed was a PR stunt that would never work. In response, Musk repeatedly accused Unsworth of being a “pedo guy.”

Elon Musk
Elon Musk, chairman and chief executive officer of Tesla Motors Inc., speaks to the media as he arrives for the Allen & Co. Media and Technology Conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, U.S. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Unsworth is suing Musk for defamation in California, and reportedly plans to add a libel suit in London. It seems to me unlikely that Unsworth will get anywhere in the US courts. American law is very protective of free speech and there’s a high bar for proving a statement is defamatory. Nevertheless, this is more bad PR that Musk could easily have avoided by being a little more judicious with his social media use.

In Premium today, you can listen to the director of the UK’s top PR industry group discuss why we won’t be seeing a repeat of the Bell Pottinger saga. You can read about the pressure South Africa faces to raise interest rates, and you can find out why Uber is losing to Taxify in the war for Africa.