Tech billionaire Elon Musk will appear in court to face a defamation lawsuit after he referred to a British diver as “pedo guy” on Twitter.
A Los Angeles judge today denied Musk’s request to throw out the case and ordered the trial to begin on 3 December.
It comes after the Tesla tycoon branded Vernon Unsworth a “pedo guy” after the diver accused him of staging a PR stunt by offering to help rescue 12 boys and their football coach from a cave in Thailand last year.
Unsworth filed a lawsuit two months later, saying Musk falsely branded him a paedophile and child rapist and denying those allegations.
Musk had sought to dismiss the suit by claiming the phrase was intended as an insult rather than an allegation, adding that it was a “common insult” used when he was growing up in South Africa.
He also argued that Unsworth should be considered a public figure due to his involvement in the cave rescue – a claim the judge also denied.
The diver’s claim is also based on an email Musk sent to a Buzzfeed reporter urging them to “stop defending child rapists”.
Musk later said that his was based on an aide’s summary of a private investigator’s report on Unsworth, and that he did not then know the statement was false.
Unsworth is seeking compensatory and punitive damages in excess fo $750,000 (£58,000).
Main image credit: Getty