Elon Musk’s attorney said on Tuesday that a trial over his attempt to terminate his $44-billion deal with Twitter should be postponed for several weeks so that the Tesla and SpaceX CEO may look into allegations of security on the social media platform made by a whistleblower.
Alex Spiro, Musk’s attorney, questioned why justice didn’t require a few weeks to investigate this during a hearing in Wilmington, Delaware, US.
Whistleblower charges that were made public last month gave Musk, the richest man in the world, new support for his improbable attempt to terminate the agreement without paying a $1-billion termination fee, according to legal experts.
Peiter Zatko, a well-known hacker known as “Mudge,” who served as Twitter’s previous head of security, said in a complaint to authorities that the firm misrepresented that it had a reliable data security strategy.
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Twitter has called Zatko’s claims “false narratives,” and on Tuesday, the company’s counsel said that the billionaire was using the whistleblower claims to hide the fact that he allegedly rushed into buying the business without fully understanding the dangers.
“Mr. Musk is blaming Twitter for his failing to do customary due diligence,” said William Savitt, an attorney for Twitter.
He pleaded with the judge to stop Musk from including whistleblower accusations in his case, but if he did, he said the five-day trial should start on October 17 as scheduled.
Savitt read an early May message from Musk to a banker that turned up in the litigation in which the billionaire wrote “it won’t make sense to buy Twitter if we’re heading into World War III.”
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According to Savitt, it shows that Musk is searching for any means to get out of the agreement and that his early comments about bots and phoney accounts were just a cover for doing so.
Musk and Twitter are suing each other in court. The firm is asking Delaware’s Court of Chancery’s Chancellor, Kathaleen McCormick to force Musk to acquire the business at the $54.20 per share price he committed to in April.
Twitter’s stock marginally increased to close Tuesday’s trading at $38.65 per share.
Tuesday’s hearing was adjourned by McCormick without a decision date being announced.
Musk first countersued Twitter for deceiving him about the number of phoney or automated accounts the social media site was home to, which he claimed permitted him to walk out of the contract.
(With inputs from Reuters)