1. ITV Report

Wife of British caver defends him in defamation case against Elon Musk

British caver Vernon Unsworth is suing Elon Musk for defamation Photo: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

The estranged wife of a British cave explorer labelled “pedo guy” by billionaire Elon Musk said any allegations of paedophilia against her husband are “totally false”.

Vernon Unsworth is suing the Tesla co-founder for defamation over tweets sent following the Thai cave rescue in 2018.

Mr Unsworth, described inside a Los Angeles court as an expert caver, helped with the hazardous rescue which saved 12 boys and their football coach.

He became involved in a dispute with Mr Musk after dismissing his offer of a mini-submersible to help as a publicity stunt.

British cave expert Vernon Unsworth, left, launched legal action against Tesla co-founder Elon Musk over a tweet Credit: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

In response Mr Musk tweeted on July 15 calling Mr Unsworth “pedo guy”. The tech entrepreneur denies that is an allegation of being a paedophile.

A defamation case is under way in federal court in California and on Thursday Mr Unsworth’s wife gave evidence via a video deposition.

Vanessa Unsworth told the court she was aware of Mr Musk’s statements, and when asked what she thought had been said, she replied “he has called Vernon a paedophile”.

Mrs Unsworth said he was “devastated” by being called “pedo guy”. Asked if an allegation of paedophilia against her husband was false, Mrs Unsworth replied: “Totally false.”

Tesla CEO Elon Musk appeared in a California court to deny defaming a British caver Credit: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

Mrs Unsworth, who works at a primary school, said she and Mr Unsworth met in 1987 while working in the same offices in St Albans, before marrying in 1993. They have one daughter, Danielle, 24.

The Unsworths separated in 2013 but have never divorced. Mr Unsworth has a new partner, Woranan Ratrawiphukkun, known as Tik, who he met in 2011.

Asked if she knew why her husband travelled to Thailand in 2011, Mrs Unsworth said as far as she was aware, it was a caving trip.

Mrs Unsworth was also asked if she found any evidence her husband had found a new partner and said she once found a note in London that she believes to be from Tik.

When asked about the marriage failing, Mrs Unsworth said: “When a marriage comes to an end, you are disappointed.”

Earlier this week Mr Unsworth took to the stand to say Mr Musk’s tweets left him feeling  “humiliated, ashamed, dirtied”.

Mr Musk, who appeared in court on Tuesday, insisted the phrase “pedo guy” was commonly used in his native South Africa and meant “creepy old guy” and not that Mr Unsworth was a paedophile.

Mr Unsworth is suing for damages. The trial continues.