Prince William talked to Vernon Unsworth about his lawsuit against Elon Musk when he presented the British cave rescue hero with the MBE, a court heard Thursday.
‘He mentioned to me the situation that existed with Mr. Musk,’ Unsworth, now 64, told the defamation trial in downtown Los Angeles.
He wanted to talk more about Prince William’s conversation but Musk’s lawyer raised an objection that was upheld by the judge.
Questioned closely by Musk attorney Bill Price about his personal life, Unsworth told the court that he married his wife Vanessa in 1993 and they had a daughter, Danielle, in 1995.
He said the marriage was ‘over’ by 2006 or 2007 but the couple didn’t separate till 2013, two years after he met his current Thai partner Tik.
Vernon Unsworth is seen above being made an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) by the Duke of Cambridge in June
In 2011, he went to Thailand where he told his wife he was going to explore caves but where in fact, he was going to be with Tik, said Price.
In a videotaped interview shown in court today, Vanessa said that when Unsworth went to Thailand in 2011, she thought he was going caving and didn’t know he was going to see his girlfriend Tik.
But she remains fiercely loyal to Unsworth, saying he still pays some of her bills and telling how ‘incredibly proud’ she is of his part in the rescue of the Thai boys.
Vanessa said she spoke by phone to Unsworth after the ‘pedo guy’ tweet and ‘he was totally devastated by it’. To suggest that Vernon is a pedophile was ‘totally false.’
Under cross examination, Unsworth conceded that his daughter Danielle, now 24, ‘has refused to have any contact’ with him since 2013, the year he separated from her mother.
But he told the court that he still misses his daughter and ‘I have done everything I can to show her I still love her.’
Unsworth’s legal team hired Dr. Jim Jansen – a computer science and web search expert – to investigate just how far and wide Musk’s ‘pedo guy’ tweet was written about around the world.
Dr. Janson spent 112 hours – at $400 an hour (that’s almost $45,000) – discovering that between July and September last year, the ’pedo guy’ tweet featured in 490 articles on 361 websites in 33 countries. They included major outlets like the BBC, CNN, the New York Times, and Time magazine.
But under cross examination, Dr. Janson admitted that in all the hundreds of articles mentioning ‘pedo guy’, he ‘did not find a single one in which Mr. Musk used the word, pedophile to refer to Mr. Unsworth.
Cave rescue hero Vernon Unsworth refused to apologize to Elon Musk for calling the billionaire’s plan to use a mini submarine to save 12 Thai boys trapped in a cave a ‘publicity stunt,’ a court heard on Thursday
Earlier in the day’s proceedings, the court heard that Unsworth had refused to apologize to Musk for calling the billionaire’s plan to use a mini submarine to save 12 Thai boys trapped in a cave a ‘publicity stunt’.
Unsworth made the comment during the rescue last year in an interview with CNN, where he also said Musk could ‘stick his submarine where it hurts,’ prompting the Tesla and SpaceX CEO to call him a ‘pedo guy’ on Twitter.
The British native, 63, denied he attacked Musk and insisted his remarks were directed at Musk’s submarine, not the entrepreneur.
During his testimony at Musk’s defamation trial in Los Angeles, Unsworth said: ‘I’m not sure how I need to apologize. That was my opinion at the time and I stand by that.’
Unsworth was questioned by Musk’s attorney, Bill Price, who asked him: ‘You knew when you did the interview that if you attacked Mr Musk, it would make headlines, right?
‘I did not attack Elon Musk,’ Unsworth responded.
Price played a video in court of Unsworth’s CNN interview in which he criticized Musk’s submarine plan, saying it had ‘absolutely no chance of working’ and told the interviewer that Musk and his team of engineers were asked to leave the rescue area.
Weren’t his remarks ‘an insult to Mr. Musk?’ Price asked.
‘My insult was to the tube (mini-sub), not to Mr. Musk,’ replied Unsworth. I believed at the time that it was a PR stunt.’
Price challenged Unsworth’s PR stunt comment asking him: ‘Do you think Mr. Musk was so cold-hearted that he sent a submarine to Thailand as a PR stunt, with no regard for the lives of these children?’
‘I never said Mr. Musk was cold-hearted,’ Unsworth replied.
‘Are you willing to apologize to Mr. Musk for the record today for saying that creating and sending the submarine to Thailand was just a PR stunt?’ Price asked him.
Unsworth said he didn’t believe he needed to apologize.
In his testimony on Wednesday, an emotional Unsworth told the court of his ‘humiliation and shame’ after hearing of Musk’s ‘pedo guy’ insult.
Unsworth is suing Musk for defamation after the Tesla CEO called him a ‘pedo guy’ on Twitter in response to his remarks
Musk, who is estimated to be worth $26 billion, claimed during his testimony that he didn’t have that much cash and most of his fortune is tied up in stock
But in court Thursday, Price questioned why, in many email exchanges with several friends in the weeks and months after Musk’s tweet, he never once mentioned his ’emotional distress’ over the implication that he was being called a pedophile.
‘I rarely talk to anyone about this in a text message,’ Unsworth responded. ‘I tend to bottle it up and deal with it myself.’
Since the dramatic rescue of the 12 boys and their soccer coach in July last year, Unsworth has participated in three books and two documentaries, received other offers, been asked to give presentations and been given awards, including the MBE from the Queen, he told the court on Thursday.
Price questioned whether all those offers and accolades are an indication that his wealthy client’s ‘pedo guy’ insult has not defamed Unsworth as much as he’s claiming.
‘Nobody has ever come up to you and said, ‘I think you are pedophile, right?’ asked Price.
‘Not to my face, no,’ replied Unsworth. ‘I don’t know what people are thinking though.’
In his testimony on Wednesday, an emotional Unsworth told the court of his ‘humiliation and shame’ after hearing of Musk’s ‘pedo guy’ insult
Earlier, Price also insisted that Unsworth’s original assertion that Musk and his submarine team were asked to leave the cave where the boys were trapped, was untrue.’
Mr. Musk was not asked to leave the cave,’ he said.
In previous testimony Musk, 48, conceded that his angry ‘pedo guy’ tweet was regrettable, he also said he deleted the tweet within hours if posting it and later apologized on Twitter.
Musk, who is estimated to be worth $26 billion, claimed he didn’t have that much cash and most of his fortune is tied up in stock.
During his own testimony on Wednesday, he said: ‘People think I have a lot of cash. I actually don’t.’ He earlier told the courtroom that he works ‘for free’.
However, Musk had $50,000 at the ready to hire a private investigator to dig up dirt on Unsworth, offering a $10,000 bonus if he could find proof of ‘nefarious behavior’.
Unsworth’s lawyers have called Musk ‘thin-skinned’ and a ‘bully’.
Unsworth is seeking unspecified damages that are to be determined by a jury.
TIMELINE OF THE THAI RESCUE AND MUSK AND UNSWORTH’S DISPUTE
June 23 2018: The boys and their soccer coach become trapped in the caves
July 8: Musk tweets that he is using Tesla engineers to build a ‘kid size’ submarine to try to get them out
The Thai soccer team got lost in caves while exploring and became stuck for days. Musk offered to help and sent a team of Tesla engineers to build a submarine to get them out
July 8 – 10: The boys were rescued gradually in a complex mission involving hundreds of people
July 13: Vernon Unsworth gives a CNN interview where he is asked about Musk’s plan. He calls it a ‘PR stunt’ and says: ‘He can stick it where it hurts’ in reference to the submarine
July 15: Musk tweets calling him a ‘pedo guy’
July 17: Musk apologizes
August 15: Musk hires private investigator James Howard after he got in touch with him saying, in an email: ‘Dear Elon, you may wish to dig deep and look into Mr. Unsworth’s past… no smoke without fire!’
They set about launching their ‘investigation’ but go to great lengths to keep Musk separate from it. In emails, Musk’s associate Jared Birchall carried out their dealings and Musk was referred to as ‘the principle’. He and Birchall never discussed it in writing.
August 28: Musk tweets in response to a follower who accused him of lying about Unsworth: ‘You don’t think it’s strange he hasn’t sued me yet?
August 30: BuzzFeed reporter emails Musk for a comment. He replies saying, among other things, that Unsworth married a ‘child bride’ and inferring that he is a rapist
September 4: BuzzFeed publishes the story
September 5: Private Investigator emails Birchall, Musk’s associate, saying: ‘At no time have have I reported that the target is a child rapist.’
September 17: Unsworth files a lawsuit against Musk