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SpaceX president defends Elon Musk against sexual harassment allegations

SpaceX president defends Elon Musk against sexual harassment allegations
Company’s most senior woman says its chief executive ‘would never conduct or condone this alleged inappropriate behaviour’

Gwynne Shotwell, EspaceX’s president, has defended Elon Musk against allegations of sexual harassment.

Ms Shotwell emailed all employees at the company telling them that she believed the allegations against the company’s chief executive to be false.

The denial arrived in an email sent to staff and titled “The recent news story”, according to CNBC and The Verge, which both separately reported having seen the message.

It was written in response to a story in Business Insider that alleged he had sexually harassed a flight attendant on his private jet in 2016. The website reported that the company had made an out-of-court settlement with Mr Musk’s accuser, which included a $250,000 payment.

Mr Musk has tweeted that the claims are “utterly untrue” and was being made by a “liar”. He also suggested to Business Insider that the fact he had only been accused of such a crime once made the claim less likely.

Ms Shotwell, who serves as chief operating officer as well as president and is SpaceX’s most senior female member of staff, said that she had known Mr Musk for 20 years and did not believe the allegations.

“Personally, I believe the allegations to be false; not because I work for Elon, but because I have worked closely with him for 20 years and never seen nor heard anything resembling these allegations,” she reportedly wrote in the email.

“Anyone who knows Elon like I do, knows he would never conduct or condone this alleged inappropriate behaviour.

“Every accusation of harassment is taken very seriously, regardless of who is involved. For privacy reasons I will never comment on any legal matters involving employment issues.”

Mr Musk has repeatedly denied the claims in the original story. He had suggested that the accusation was politically motivated, and told the original reporters that there was “a lot more to this story”.

He has also said that Tesla, the electric car company also owned by Mr Musk, would be building a large legal department with the aim of taking on lawsuits – asking fans and followers to email him if they wish to be hired.