Elon Musk's defence against the diver suing him for his 'pedo' remarks is that his 'over-the-top insults' weren't serious

elon musk

Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press

Elon Musk.

  • Elon Musk has filed a motion to dismiss the defamation allegation brought by British cave diver Vern Unsworth.
  • Unsworth is suing Musk after the Tesla CEO baselessly called him a pedophile.
  • Musk's lawyers argue that his "over-the-top insults" were opinion, not factual statements, and should be protected by free speech laws.

Elon Musk would really like everyone to just forget about that whole 'pedo' thing.

Lawyers for the Tesla CEO have filed a motion to dismiss the defamation claim brought by Vern Unsworth, the British cave diver baselessly described by Musk as a "pedo guy."Advertisement

We first heard of the legal update on Thursday via BuzzFeed reporter Ryan Mac.

The billionaire CEO's attempt to dismiss the claim hinges on the arguments that Unsworth attacked Musk first, that Musk made his attacks on a social media platform known for "hyperbole", and that Musk's remarks were opinion and not statements of fact.

Musk's lawyers wrote in a filing to a California court: "[The] reasonable reader would not have believed that Musk - without ever having met Unsworth, in the midst of a schoolyard spat on social media, and from 8,000 miles afar - was conveying that he was in possession of private knowledge that Unsworth was sexually attracted to children or engaged with sex acts with children."


Screenshot/ 7 News

British caver Vernon Unsworth, who is suing Elon Musk for libel.

They described Twitter, where Musk first made his insults, as a "rough-and-tumble" platform known for "invective and hyperbole." Most readers, they claimed, don't necessarily expect everything they read on social media to be factually correct.And they claimed Musk's statements were "imaginative attacks" which were protected by US free speech laws. Expressions of opinion are protected under Californian law.Advertisement

The lawyers wrote: "The more colourful the invective, the more likely the reader is to understand that it is opinion."

Business Insider has contacted Unsworth's legal representatives in the US and the UK for comment.

Musk's feud with the British cave diver began in July

Vern Unsworth is one of the cave divers who helped in the effort this summer to rescue 12 Thai boys and their football coach from a network of caves in Thailand, where they had been stranded thanks to floodwater.Advertisement

thai cave rescue laughs

REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

The 12 soccer players and their coach react as they explain their experience in the cave during their news conference in the northern province of Chiang Rai, Thailand, July 18, 2018.

About a week after the boys went missing, Musk stated on Twitter that he was keen to help in the rescue attempt. He subsequently flew to Thailand with engineers from his company SpaceX to offer up a mini-submarine as a rescue vehicle. Ultimately, the head of the rescue mission described the mini-submarine as "not practical", and the boys were successfully rescued by diverse guiding them through the cave network.

After the rescue, Unsworth appeared on CNN and dismissed Elon Musk's mini-submarine, stating that the Tesla CEO could "stick his submarine where it hurts." He criticised the plan as a PR stunt.Advertisement

This prompted Musk to describe Unsworth a "pedo guy" baselessly on Twitter. He later apologised and deleted the original tweet, but then revived the feud in August by asking why Unsworth hadn't sued him yet. He then doubled down on his original pedophile comments in an email to BuzzFeed, suggesting Unsworth was a "child rapist", again without offering proof.

Unsworth then sued for libel.

You can read Musk's motion to dismiss here:Advertisement