- Jurors ruled on Friday that Elon Musk calling British cave diver Vernon Unsworth “pedo guy” on Twitter did not qualify as defamation.
- Vernon Unsworth’s lawyer, Lin Wood, called the decision a “miscarriage of justice.”
- “Goliath wins almost every time, especially in his back yard,” Wood tweeted.
- A UK lawyer for Unsworth told Business Insider Musk had been invited to stand trial in the UK, but had declined. Musk’s lawyer denied this.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The lawyer for British cave diver Vernon Unsworth has tweeted his indignation after Elon Musk won a defamation case on Friday for calling Unsworth “pedo guy.”
Vernon Unsworth filed a defamation lawsuit against Musk after the Tesla CEO called him “pedo guy” on Twitter in September 2018. Musk had tweeted the insult after Unsworth criticised his involvement in the rescue of 12 Thai boys and their soccer coach who became trapped in a flooded cave system late last year. Musk had proposed he would send a miniature submarine to save the boys, a proposition Unsworth later called a “PR stunt.”
On Friday a jury ruled that Elon Musk had not defamed Unsworth by calling him “pedo guy.” The jury took less than 30 minutes to deliberate, and the foreman said Unsworth’s defence was too focused on trying to elicit an emotional response, the Guardian reported.
Unsworth’s lawyer did not take the jury’s ruling lying down.
“As my client, Vernon Unsworth – a true hero & man of courage – & his legal team knew going into this LA trial, Goliath wins almost every time, especially in his back yard,” Unsworth’s attorney Lin Wood tweeted following Friday’s verdict.
Wood added that his team would “explore legal options” following the verdict.
One ongoing mystery has been why Unsworth, who is British, didn’t sue Musk in the UK, where defamation laws are more favourable to anyone bringing a claim.
Business Insider approached Mark Stephens, one of Unsworth’s lawyers based in the UK, for comment.
He told us that the Tesla billionaire was asked to come to England to have the case tried locally, but Musk declined. Business Insider viewed a copy of the High Court writ sent to Elon Musk dated 10 July 2019.
Musk’s lawyer Alex Spiro categorically denied that Musk refused to come to the UK.
“They filed their intent to sue in London but never served Mr. Musk probably because it was an attempt at leverage that failed,” Spiro said.
Another document viewed by Business Insider showed that Unsworth’s lawyers dropped the UK case the Friday before Musk was due to testify in California court.
Wood also tweeted saying the jury’s verdict was reached based on the fact that Musk never named Unsworth in his tweet, and was therefore judged to have not identified him.
The Times also reported lack of identification as being behind the jury’s reasoning. Wood called the verdict a “miscarriage of justice.”
In a statement to Business Inside Alex Spiro said: “The jury got it right.”
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