A British cave diver is considering taking legal action against Elon Musk after the US entrepreneur called him a ‘paedo’ on Twitter.
Mr Musk made the unfounded allegation about Vern Unsworth, 63, after the diver dismissed the mini-submarine he donated to the rescue operation of 12 boys and their football coach from a Thai cave.
Officials thanked the Tesla and SpaceX tycoon for his offer but said the vehicle was not practical.
Mr Unsworth said it “had absolutely no chance of working” and called it a “PR stunt”.
“He can stick his submarine where it hurts,” he added.
In response, billionaire Musk, 47, referred to the British caver as “pedo guy” – slang for paedophile – in a series of now-deleted tweets.
Reinforcing the claim, he added: “Bet ya a signed dollar it’s true.”
“Never saw this British expat guy who lives in Thailand (sus) at any point when we were in the caves,” he wrote.
“Only people in sight were the Thai navy/army guys, who were great.”
Mr Unsworth said on Monday he had not reviewed the tweets in full and had only heard about them.
Asked if he would take legal action against Mr Musk over the personal tirade to the businessman’s 22 million Twitter followers, he said: “If it’s what I think it is, yes.”
The caver, who lives part of the year in Thailand, said he would make a decision when he flies back to the UK this week – adding that the episode with Mr Musk “ain’t finished”.
Mr Unsworth also told the Guardian that he was “astonished and very angry” over the comments – for which Mr Musk did not provide any evidence or explanation.
Social media users expressed their outrage over Mr Musk’s comments.
One person tweeted: “I used to admire #elonmusk and what he contributes to technology, calling another person a pedo without proof is disgusting.”
Another said: “The implication that the only reason someone would be an expat in Thailand is because they’re a pedo is so offensive on so many levels. An insult to Thailand and its wonderful people.”
The Briton played a role in the 18-day effort to successful rescue the boys and their coach from the Tham Luang cave in northern Thailand which ended on 10 July.
The boys, known as the “Wild Boar team”, became stuck in the cave after wandering in on 23 June following football practice – only to find themselves trapped inside by rising floodwaters.
They were found by British divers nine days later on a muddy embankment miles inside, but did not require urgent medical treatment despite not having eaten anything.
The boys are now all in good health and expected to be released from the hospital on Thursday.
A former Thai Navy SEAL, Saman Gunan, died during the rescue mission.