What was Elon Musk’s ‘paedo guy’ tweet about Vern Unsworth?.

VERNON Unsworth is the Thai cave hero falsely branded a "paedo guy" by Elon Musk.

Here's what you need to know about the Brit caver as he sues the Telsa founder for defamation.

 Elon Musk is on trail for defamation in California after branding Vernon Unsworth a 'paedo guy'

Elon Musk is on trail for defamation in California after branding Vernon Unsworth a 'paedo guy'Credit: Getty Images - Getty

What was Elon Musk's 'paedo guy' tweet about Vern Unsworth?

The spat began while Unsworth was playing a leading role in the rescue of the football team and their coach from a flooded cave in Thailand in July 2018.

Musk, 48, had suggested he could build a miniature submarine to navigate the network of tight passages and lead the boys to safety.

But the expert dismissed it as a publicity stunt, adding Musk should "stick his submarine where it hurts”.

The Tesla CEO then lashed out, calling Unsworth a "paedo guy" in a tweet which he later deleted after a backlash from the public and pressure from investors.

He later labelled the cave diver a "child rapist" in a rambling email to a reporter.

Musk told a court on Los Angeles: "I just thought he was some random creepy guy the media were interviewing.

"I thought at the time he was unrelated to the rescue."

The slurs prompted the diver, a 64-year-old financial broker originally from St Albans, Herts, to sue the tycoon.

 Vernon Unsworth played a key role in freeing the Thai Cave boys last year

Vernon Unsworth played a key role in freeing the Thai Cave boys last yearCredit: EPA

In the trial, which is currently ongoing, Musk has claimed he didn't know a British diver was involved in the dramatic cave rescue of 12 boys when he branded him "paedo guy".

The Tesla billionaire told a defamation trial he thought Vernon Unsworth was just "some random creepy guy".

He added: "I thought at the time he was unrelated to the rescue."

"I assume he did not mean literally to sodomise me with the submarine, just as I didn’t literally mean he was a paedophile."

Mr Unsworth's attorney Taylor Wilson said his client suffered “shame, mortification, worry and stress” over the accusations, smearing “what should have been one of the proudest moments of his life."

Mr Musk’s lead attorney, Alex Spiro, told the jurors the Tesla founder’s tweets were not to be taken seriously, and were just “insults understood as insults” in an “argument between two men”.

 Vern Unsworth blasted Elon Musk's offer to help as just a 'PR stunt'

Vern Unsworth blasted Elon Musk's offer to help as just a 'PR stunt'Credit: Dan Charity - The Sun

What happened in the Thailand caves?

A group of 12 youngsters from the Wild Boars football club plus their 25-year-old coach went in to explore the cave on June 23.

But monsoon flooding cut off their escape and prevented rescuers from finding them for almost 10 days.

A team of 90 expert divers - 40 from Thailand and 50 from overseas - worked in the Tham Luang caves to get the boys and their coach out safely.

The divers guided the boys and their coach through darkness and submerged passageways towards the entrance to the cave system.

They were rescued in stages between Sunday, July 8 and Tuesday, July 10, when the final four boys and coach emerged to safety.

Vern Unsworth played a key role in their rescue jointly leading the operation to find them and lead them to safety.

 Elon Musk has told a defamation trial he didn't know a British diver was part of a Thai cave rescue mission when he called him a 'paedo'

Elon Musk has told a defamation trial he didn't know a British diver was part of a Thai cave rescue mission when he called him a 'paedo'Credit: Reuters

 Mr Unsworth was part of a team working to free 12 boys trapped in the cave

Mr Unsworth was part of a team working to free 12 boys trapped in the caveCredit: Reuters

How does a defamation trial work?

In California, where the case is being heard, a claim for defamation involves a false statement made by one person about another person, which harms to a person’s property, business, profession or occupation.

Defamatory statements are typically made using two methods:

  • Slander: Making defamatory statements by a transitory (nonfixed) representation, usually an oral representation.
  • Libel: Making defamatory statements in a printed or fixed medium such as a magazine or newspaper.

In order be considered defamation, a successful action must include a false and defamatory statement about another and the unprivileged publication of the statement to a person other than the target of the statement.

On top of this it must cause damage to the person defamed.

In the case of Vern Unsworth, the judge has denied the defence's request to define him as a "public figure" - meaning lawyers for Mr Unsworth do not have to prove Mr Musk acted with "actual malice", lowering the bar necessary to win the case.

To win Unsworth must prove five elements including:

  1. An intentional publication of a statement of fact;
  2. That is false;
  3. That is unprivileged;
  4. That has a natural tendency to injure or which causes “special damage;” and,
  5. The defendant's fault in publishing the statement amounted to at least negligence.

If successful, Mr Unsworth can be awarded uncapped damages by the California court.

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