TESLA tycoon Elon Musk has apologised for calling the hero Brit who spearheaded the Thai cave rescue a “paedo” in a Twitter rant.
He said sorry 24 hours after shares in his company dived by around £2billion following his outrageous remarks, which he now admits were made “in anger”.
He tweeted last night: “My words were spoken in anger after Mr. Unsworth said several untruths & suggested I engage in a sexual act with the mini-sub, which had been built as an act of kindness & according to specifications from the dive team leader.
“Nonetheless, his actions against me do not justify my actions against him, and for that I apologize to Mr. Unsworth and to the companies I represent as leader. The fault is mine and mine alone.”
Unsworth is a British expat and caver who lives near the Tham Luang tunnel network where the 12 boys and their football coach were trapped for more than two weeks.
He was scathing of Musk’s offer to send a mini-submarine to help in the rescue efforts, which he dismissed as “just a PR stunt” and said the billionaire could “stick the submarine where it hurts.”
Musk- worth a reported $20bn- then hit back in a bizarre series of tweets, some of which he later deleted, suggesting the expert had exaggerated his role in the rescue.
He also claimed it was suspicious the 63-year-old lived in Thailand before explicitly branding him a “paedo” in one post.
Musk added: “Never saw this British expat guy who lives in Thailand (sus) at any point when we were in the caves.”
Unsworth has said is now considering taking legal action against Musk for his astonishing remarks.
But whatever happens it is clear the comments have already cost Musk and his shareholders dear.
Tesla shares were at $307.20 in after-hours trading on Monday well down from Friday’s close of $318.87.
Analysts say the bizarre incident added to growing concerns his public outbursts were distracting him from his main job of producing electric cars.
James Anderson, a partner at Tesla’s fourth-largest shareholder, asset manager Baillie Gifford, called the weekend’s events “a regrettable instance.”
And he reiterated to Tesla the need for “peace and execution” of its core business.
Unsworth revealed last night: “I’ve been approached by British lawyers, American lawyers. I haven’t decided what to do next yet.”
The Brit said he hadn’t flatly denied Musk’s accusation because he was waiting for legal advice.
“I can’t let it go. There’s too much out there already,” Unsworth told Reuters in an interview.
Asked why he thought Musk would make such a comment about him, he said: “I don’t know.”
Musk earlier tweeted a screenshot of an email from Richard Stanton, who co-led the dive rescue team, asking him to keep working on the submarine.
Musk said Stanton encouraged him to build the submarine, saying it “may well be used”.
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All the boys and their young coach were rescued from the cave system after a complex and treacherous rescue operation involving hundreds of volunteers.
They had become trapped in the cave by rising floodwaters on 23 June and were first found by rescuers on 2 July.
The 13 rescued remain in hospital in the city of Chiang Rai but are expected to be discharged on Thursday.