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Musk humiliated me, says diver branded 'pedo guy'

Libel case: Elon Musk
Libel case: Elon Musk

By Keiran Southern

A British cave diver was left feeling "humiliated" after billionaire Elon Musk branded him "pedo guy", a court has heard.

Vernon Unsworth's voice cracked as he gave evidence in his defamation case.

The row started when Mr Unsworth, who helped rescue children trapped in a underwater Thai cave, dismissed Mr Musk's offer of aid as a publicity stunt.

Giving evidence a Los Angeles court, Mr Unsworth appeared close to tears when describing the impact of Mr Musk's tweets.

"It feels very raw. I feel humiliated, ashamed, dirtied. At times I feel very vulnerable. It hurts to even talk about it," he said.

"I have probably lost a bit of self-confidence. I have good days and bad days."

The financial consultant told the court he first travelled to Thailand in 2011 with his girlfriend Woranan Ratrawiphukkun, known as Tik.

The 64-year-old said he had explored caves around the world and was an expert in the layout of the system the children were trapped in.

He first realised there was an issue when Tik was told by her father on June 24. Mr Unsworth then became heavily involved in the rescue.

During the three days the 12 boys and their football coach were rescued from the cave over July 8 to 10, Mr Unsworth did not sleep "at all". "I was there 24/7, either in the cave or giving advice to officials," he said.

The row started after Mr Unsworth gave an interview dismissing Mr Musk's offer of a submersible to aid the rescue and said he should "stick his submarine where it hurts".

During the first day of the trial on Tuesday, Mr Musk appeared in court to deny the term 'pedo guy' was an allegation of paedophilia. The billionaire dismissed it as a Twitter insult between two men having a row.

Mr Musk insisted the phrase was commonly used in his native South Africa and meant "creepy old guy", not that Mr Unsworth was a paedophile.

Asked by Lin Wood, one of Mr Unsworth's lawyers, why he did not offer the defence earlier, Mr Musk replied: "I think it would have been worse."

He said "it's like if I called someone a mothereffer," adding it would seem sarcastic to say "I did not mean they committed incest".

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