Elon Musk set to rely on South African defence as defamation case begins

Tesla founder Elon Musk will head to court on Tuesday (3 December) as he faces a defamation suit for comments he made on Twitter.

The suit is being brought against him by Vernon Unsworth, a British man who helped with the rescue of 12 boys and their soccer coach from a flooding Thai cave in July 2018.

Unsworth is suing Musk for accusing him of being a paedophile and is seeking punitive and compensatory damages.

As part of his defence, Musk is expected to rely on the fact that ‘pedo guy’ was a common insult used in his home country of South Africa and is not the same as calling a person a paedophile.

“By referring to Mr Unsworth as ‘pedo guy,’ I did not intend to convey any facts or imply that Mr Unsworth had engaged in acts of paedophilia,” Musk said in a September court filing.

“Pedo guy was a common insult used in South Africa when I was growing up. It is synonymous with ‘creepy old man’ and is used to insult a person’s appearance and demeanour, not accuse a person of paedophilia.”

In that same filing, Musk defended his decision to double down on the claim, sharing how he hired a private investigator to probe Unsworth and blamed the PI for allegedly giving him bad information.

Musk and Unsworth are both expected to testify, their respective lawyers told CNN Business. Musk’s lawyer will look to classify the use of “pedo guy” as an insult or opinion, not a statement of fact.

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Elon Musk set to rely on South African defence as defamation case begins