THE Brit Thai cave hero branded a ‘paedo guy’ by Elon Musk could face potentially vast legal costs after losing his defamation case against the billionaire.
Vernon Unsworth said he has taken the court battle loss “on the chin” and will “just have to get on with life” but the repercussions for the 64-year-old may not be over yet.
Vernon Unsworth choked back tears as he gave evidence during the high-profile defamation case[/caption]
It still hasn’t been determined whether Vern will have to pay the Tesla bosses costs following the ruling.
The extent of the billionaire’s legal fees are unknown but could run potentially run well into six figures and Unsworth has not revealed whether or not he took out insurance against the costs of defeat.
Under California law the judge is free to make Unsworth pay all of the Space X founder’s costs but could also rule that Musk has to pay his own after both sides submit documents to the court.
Musk was found not liable in a defamation case involving a British cave explorer he called him a ‘paedo guy’ on Twitter.
The decision on costs will not be decided for some time as both sides have to calculate their costs and submit them to the judge, who will then hold a hearing at a date he has yet to decide.
The case stemmed from the pair’s very public squabble last year when Mr Unsworth was part of an international team working to save a youth football team and their coach from a flooded cave network.
The tech boss said he was building a mini-submarine to guide the boys to safety – but the rescuer told CNN the scheme had “absolutely no chance of working” and said Musk and his team had been asked to leave.
Musk hit back by branding him “paedo guy” to his millions of followers on Twitter.
The caving expert, from St Albans, Herts, fought back tears at court this week as he said being branded a paedophile was “a life sentence without parole”.
His voice cracking with emotion, he said: “It feels very raw. I feel humiliated, shamed, dirtied.”
But A US District Court jury in Los Angeles on Friday found in favour of the Tesla Inc boss in the defamation lawsuit.
The verdict was delivered on the fourth day of the trial a short time after the case was handed to the jury of five women and three men.
Following the court victory, Musk told The Mail: “My faith in humanity is restored.”
£144MILLION DAMAGES CLAIM
Unsworth was seeking £144million damages against Musk, who during the trial estimated his net worth at £15billion.
He was challenged by Mr Musk’s lawyers during the case if he wanted to apologise for his own comments.
He replied: “My insult was to the tube and not to Mr Musk personally.
“I’m not sure how I need to apologise. It was my opinion at the time and I stand by that opinion.”
He added: “I don’t think he was cold-hearted, but I do believe it was a PR stunt.”
The Brit, 64, also revealed Prince William spoke to him about “the situation that existed with Mr Musk” when he awarded him an MBE at Buckingham Palace.
The judge stopped him revealing more about the conversation after an objection from Musk’s attorney.
Earlier he had said his upset over the “paedo guy” tweet meant he could not enjoy what should have been one of the proudest moments of his life.
The court also heard from Mr Unsworth’s estranged wife Vanessa, who said he was “really devastated” by Musk’s slur and any suggestion he was a paedophile was “totally false”.
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She said she is “incredibly proud” of his role in the rescue, despite their split in 2013 when he was already in a relationship with his Thai girlfriend Tik.
Musk deleted the “pedo guy” tweet after a backlash from the public and pressure from investors as his company’s stock dipped.
But he later labelled the cave diver a “child rapist” in a rambling email to a reporter which he claims he thought was off the record.
Elon Musk was sued after calling a cave rescuer ‘paedo guy’ on Twitter[/caption]
Tesla boss Elon Musk arriving at the US District Court in Los Angeles earlier this week[/caption]
Musk, 48, said the term ‘paedo guy’ was a common insult when he was growing up in South Africa[/caption]