Vernon Unsworth, the diver seeking damages from Elon Musk, has described the effect of the billionaire’s “pedo guy” tweet as “a life sentence without parole.”
Speaking in court in Los Angeles, Unsworth laid out in detail the effect he believes the comment has had on his life.
Unsworth, the British caving expert who was central to the rescue of a Thai boys football team who had got trapped in a cave system last summer, said that he felt the tweet had branded him as a paedophile.
He said that the experience had left him feeling “raw, humiliated, ashamed and dirtied”, and that he found it hard even to read the word paedophile.
Unsworth’s turn in the witness box could not have contrasted more with that of the Tesla owner, which lasted around five hours and was typically wide-ranging.
During his evidence Musk veered from descriptions of his 100 hour work weeks to explaining the provenance of “no problemo”, a phrase he said he stole from the Simpsons.
He also mused on the question of who buys marijuana in Colorado.
The court also heard an account of how one of Musk’s employees had ised a false name to hire a private investigator to look into the diver’s background.
Not only did the investigator fail to find anything, he also turned out to be a conman.
The billionaire businessman apologised again to Unsworth as he wrapped his testimony, and said the insult was written in anger and was not intended to be taken literally.
Musk said he lashed out on Twitter after Unsworth called his offer of a mini-submersible to aid the rescue a PR stunt and said Musk could “stick his submarine where it hurts”.
To win the defamation case, Unsworth needs to show that Musk was negligent in publishing a falsehood that clearly identified him and caused him harm.