A British caver who helped rescue 12 boys from a Thai cave said on Tuesday (July 17) that he has been approached by British and American lawyers and will seek legal advice after Tesla chief executive officer Elon Musk directed abuse at him on Twitter.
“I’ve been approached by British lawyers, American lawyers. I haven’t decided what to do next yet,” Vern Unsworth told Reuters in Mae Sai town in Chiang Rai province, about 3km from the cave where the boys and their coach were trapped for 18 days.
However, Unsworth has said he is considering legal action against the billionaire entrepreneur, who is chief executive of the electric car maker Tesla.
“I can’t let it go. There’s too much out there already,” Unsworth told Reuters in an interview.
Asked which law firm he would hire, he said: “I don’t know yet. I have to take advice.”
Tesla spokesmen did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Musk could not be reached for comment.
Musk’s spat with Unsworth started last week, after rescue teams rejected Musk’s offer of a mini-submarine created by his rocket company SpaceX to help extract the youth football team and the coach from the labyrinth of partly flooded passages.
“It just has absolutely no chance of working,” CNN quoted Unsworth as saying about the submarine.
Musk responded on Twitter on Sunday saying: “We will make one (video) of the mini-sub/pod going all the way to Cave 5 no problem. Sorry pedo guy, you really did ask for it.”
The Tweet was later deleted.
Unsworth said he hadn’t flatly denied Musk’s accusation because he was waiting for legal advice.
Asked why he thought Musk would make such a comment about him, he said: “I don’t know.”
A police officer in the Chiang Rai, where Unsworth has lived for seven years, said that no charges or complaints had ever been filed against Unsworth.
The officer declined to be named because he was not authorised to speak to the media.
Billionaire tech entrepreneur Elon Musk made an unfounded and disparaging claim about an expert caver involved in the Thai cave rescue, after the caver criticized Musk’s idea of using a mini-sub for the rescue: https://t.co/aPifpjBPdy pic.twitter.com/CJAmJAK3qY
— CNN International (@cnni) 16 July 2018
Unsworth, 63, said he hadn’t actually met Musk face to face when Musk visited the cave during the rescue.
He said he felt sorry that the squabble with Musk had detracted from the successful end to the rescue mission.
“It’s taken a bit of the pleasure out of what’s happened, what we’ve achieved, for me anyway,” he said, adding that it had upset his ex-wife and daughter back in Britain.
“It’s very much upset my daughter,” the caver said, his voice breaking.
Shares of Tesla fell more than 3.5 per cent on Monday, knocking almost US$2 billion (S$2.7 billion) off the company’s market value.
Several analysts and investors, requesting anonymity, told Reuters that Musk’s comments were adding to their concerns that his public statements were distracting him from Tesla’s main business of producing electric cars. – Reuters