Monday, July 16, 2018
Does he have a case? Almost certainly, especially in the UK, where slander and libel laws are particularly harsh and no formal First Amendment concerns apply. Even in the US, Musk would probably lose this case once it got to a jury. On one hand, they would have a man who just dedicated two weeks to the world’s most celebrated rescue, succeeding beyond anyone’s hopes, and on the other a billionaire industrialist with a bruised ego who twice called the hero a pedophile for belittling him. Unsworth wouldn’t likely be considered a public person, which makes a finding of liability in a slander/libel case easier. Even if Unsworth was a public person, a finding of actual malice in this case wouldn’t be all that big of a reach, not with Musk tossing “pedo” around without any justification other than the country in which Unsworth works. Good luck on invoking Sullivan on this one, Elon.
Elon has just made a lot of lawyers very happy. Unsworth can start shopping for the cave explorer's dream house. Probably too dark and clammy for my tastes. Musk's intervention in this case sadly revealed him to be the sort of person he evidently is.