Elon Musk cleared of defaming British cave explorer

  • Video report by ITV News Washington Correspondent Robert Moore and words by ITV News editor Alex Chandler

Elon Musk walked out of court in Los Angeles this afternoon cleared of defaming British caver, Vernon Unsworth. "This restores my faith in humanity," the billionaire said.

The jury of eight men and women took just one hour and three minutes to agree unanimously that when Mr Musk used the term "pedo guy" in a twitter spat with Mr Unsworth he wasn’t accusing him of being a paedophile.

I respect the jury’s decision. I’d just like to say my legal team have been absolutely awesome. I came here for a verdict, unfortunately it’s not gone the way I expected but I respect the jury’s decision and thank them for that.

Vernon Unsworth

During the trial Mr Unsworth told the court the insult was like a life sentence with no parole. His lawyers were seeking $190 million in damages.

But in court today Mr Musk’s lawyer, Alex Spiro took apart the case. No one, he said, would have thought the insult was a genuine allegation.

There was no evidence Mr Unsworth had been emotionally or financially damaged by the insult. He also suggested that the case had been motivated by a desire for a big payout.

Outside court British lawyer, Mark Stephens, labelled Mr Musk a "billionaire bully". Mr Unsworth said he accepted the decision. "It’s not gone the way we wished. I accept the jury’s verdict. Take it on the chin and move on."