Elon Musk denies sexually harassing flight attendant on private jet

SpaceX and Tesla chief executive claims accusation 'politically motivated' as he tries to acquire Twitter

Elon Musk, pictured here in 2020, claimed in a tweet that the article was meant to interfere with his acquisition of Twitter. Reuters
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Billionaire Elon Musk has rejected as “utterly untrue” claims in a news report that he sexually harassed a flight attendant on a private jet in 2016.

Business Insider news website reported on Thursday that Mr Musk's SpaceX paid $250,000 in 2018 to settle a sexual harassment claim from an unnamed private jet flight attendant.

The article quoted an anonymous source who said she was a friend of the flight attendant. The friend had provided a statement as part of the private settlement process, according to the article.

Mr Musk said the allegations were “utterly untrue” and challenged the source to substantiate the claims against him. Mr Musk and SpaceX did not respond to Reuters requests for comment on the Business Insider story or on the rebuttal tweets from the South African-born businessman.

On Friday, Business Insider said: “We stand by our story which is based on documents and interviews and which speaks for itself.”

The flight attendant came to believe that her rebuttal of Mr Musk's alleged indecent proposal had hurt her opportunities to work at SpaceX and this prompted her to hire a lawyer in 2018, according to Business Insider.

The space company made the settlement out of court and included a nondisclosure agreement that prevented the flight attendant from speaking about it, Business Insider said.

It did not name the friend or the flight attendant.

Mr Musk, who is also chief executive of Tesla and is in the midst of a contentious effort to buy Twitter, said on Wednesday that he would vote Republican instead of Democrat, predicting a “dirty tricks campaign against me” would follow.

In the Business Insider article, he was quoted as saying the flight attendant's story was a “politically motivated hit piece” and that there was “a lot more to this story”.

On Thursday evening, Musk first tweeted: “The attacks against me should be viewed through a political lens — this is their standard (despicable) playbook — but nothing will deter me from fighting for a good future and your right to free speech.”

In the initial tweet, he did not specifically mention the allegations in the Business Insider article.

“And, for the record, those wild accusations are utterly untrue,” Mr Musk added in another tweet.

He also tweeted that the article was meant to interfere with the Twitter acquisition.

- With reporting by Reuters.

Updated: May 21, 2022, 6:46 AM