L. Lin Wood, a lawyer retained by the British diver Vernon Unsworth, whom Elon Musk called a "pedo," is "preparing a civil complaint for libel" against Musk, BuzzFeed first reported.
In a letter Wood sent to Musk on August 6 reviewed by Business Insider, Wood writes that Musk made "false and defamatory statements" suggesting Unsworth is a paedophile.
"You published through three different tweets to your twenty-two million followers that Mr. Unsworth engages in the sexual exploitation of Thai children, and you did so at a time when he was working to save the lives of twelve Thai children," Wood wrote. Unsworth was involved in the Thailand cave rescue.
In the letter, Wood invited Musk and his legal representatives to contact him to avoid a lawsuit.
A representative for Musk did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment.
On Tuesday, Musk suggested via Twitter that it was unusual Unsworth hadn't sued him yet and asked a Twitter user who brought up the matter why he hadn't investigated it.
"You don't think it's strange he hasn't sued me? He was offered free legal services," Musk said after the Twitter user, Drew Olanoff, criticised Musk for the "pedo" tweet.
Musk then asked Olanoff multiple times why he hadn't investigated the matter and ended the exchange by suggesting that Olanoff was not a "truth-seeker" because he didn't investigate why Unsworth hadn't sued Musk.
In July, Musk called Unsworth a paedophile in a tweet and said he would bet money to back his accusation after Unsworth said the miniature submarine Musk designed and sent to Thailand to help with the rescue of a boys' soccer team and their coach would have been ineffective and was merely a publicity stunt. Musk later apologised to Unsworth and deleted the tweet.
Musk is known for being unusually candid on Twitter compared to other CEOs, but he has become increasingly combative on the site this year, lashing out at critics and reporters and spurring questions about his judgment when using the site.
He reportedly prompted an investigation from the Securities and Exchange Commission in August when he said on Twitter that he was considering taking Tesla private and had secured the funding to do so. The agency is reportedly investigating whether Musk was attempting to hurt the company's short-sellers when he published the tweet.
Reports that emerged after the tweet and a statement from Musk suggested that, at the time of the tweet, he did not have legally binding agreements in place that would provide enough funding to convert Tesla into a private company. Musk said on Friday that Tesla would remain public, but said he believed there was "more than enough funding" to take the company private.
You can read Wood's full letter below:
Dear Mr. Musk:
I have been retained by Vernon Unsworth to represent his interests in connection with the publication on your Twitter account of false and defamatory statements conveying that Mr. Unsworth is a paedophile. More specifically, you published through three different tweets to your twenty-two million followers that Mr. Unsworth engages in the sexual exploitation of Thai children, and you did so at a time when he was working to save the lives of twelve Thai children. You did so without any basis. According to a subsequent Twitter post, you did so out of anger.
I am in the process of preparing a civil complaint for libel against you. In an attempt to avoid litigation and to see the public record corrected, I invite you or your legal representatives to contact me.
L. Lin Wood
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