The ongoing saga of Elon Musk, a British diver, the trapped Thai football team, unnecessary insults and a refusal to backtrack continues.
We’ve been following the story closely – something about the combination of absurd wealth, childish sniping, futuristic submarine offers and bloody-minded stubbornness is just incredibly compelling. The latest stage in the tale is one we all saw coming – diver Vernon Unsworth is preparing to sue the Tesla billionaire.
The story so far, in précis, is that Musk called Unsworth a ‘pedo guy’ during Unsworth’s efforts to help the Thai football team who were trapped in an underground cave – Musk had offered to help with a submarine but ultimately was not called upon to do so – then apologised for it, then un-apologised, doubling down on his claims, saying Unsworth was a ‘child rapist’ with a ‘child bride who was about 12 years old’.
Defamation papers are to be filed in Thailand, the US and the UK. In Thailand, the offence could actually carry a jail sentence.
Unsworth is 63, his girlfriend Woranan Ratrawiphukkun is 43, and they have been together for seven years.
“The news about him being married to a 12-year-old child is laughable,” Ratrawiphukkun told the Times. “As of now, everything will proceed according to the law. Vern is a kind person. He rarely has an argument with anyone, and everybody loves Vern. If he wasn’t a good man, we wouldn’t still be together.”
Musk might come to regret not only calling Unsworth what he called him and then doubling down on it – he might come to regret suggesting the litigation in the first place. Last week, Musk wrote on Twitter, “Don’t you think it’s strange [Unsworth] hasn’t sued me?”.
Musk has had quite a summer. His relationship with Grimes has been tumultuous (and may or may not still be going), he was subpoenaed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission following a tweet, and Azealia Banks accused him of various things from phone-hacking to threatening blackmail.
Even if everything in the potential three defamation trials he is facing goes hideously for Musk, it is extremely unlikely that he’ll end up in a Thai prison. He is extraordinarily wealthy – his net worth is currently estimated at over $19bn – and as such would be likely to settle out of court if things really didn’t go his way.
Still, you shouldn’t go calling people names, eh?