We weren’t expecting to kick off the week by reporting on a CEO of a major car company accusing someone of being a paedophile. Particularly a man considered by pretty much everyone else in the world to be a hero. But after an extraordinary Twitter outburst from Elon Musk on Sunday, here we are.
The bizarre story starts with the Tesla and Space X CEO’s attempts to help with the rescue of the 12 members of a junior football team and their coach from the Tham Luang cave complex in Thailand. Musk - who insists he was asked to help and initially declined - built a miniature submarine for the job, which was deemed impractical for the job by Thai authorities.
British diver Vern Unsworth - a key part of the successful rescue - was particularly critical of the device, saying in an interview that Musk “can stick his submarine where it hurts”. He added that it had “Absolutely no chance of working…He had no conception of what the cave passage was like…it wouldn’t have made the first 50 metres into the cave”. It was “just a PR stunt,” he concluded. A video of the interview was widely shared, after which Musk launched his shocking attack against Unsworth on Twitter.
Having initially made an insinuation about the diver - “This British expat who lives in Thailand (sus)” - Musk went one step further by dubbing him “pedo guy” while vowing to film a video of the mini-sub reaching the rescue point. Musk even responded to one Twitter’s objections to the Tweets by saying “Bet ya a signed dollar it’s true”. Amid an understandably angry online backlash last night, the Tweets were all deleted.
Speaking to The Guardian on Monday, Unsworth said that he was “astonished and very angry,” at Musk’s comments. “I have a lot of support from people around the world astonished by his unfounded comments,” the 63-year-old said.
Asked about the prospect of taking legal action against the billionaire, who Unsworth reckons has “lost the plot,” he replied: “Yes, it’s not finished.”