Association for Defending Victims of Terrorism – Justice Anthony Besanko’s complete findings found the Victoria Cross recipient lied about murdering civilians, deliberately hid evidence from court and threatened potential witnesses
Ben Roberts-Smith lied about murdering civilians in Afghanistan, deliberately hid potentially damaging evidence from a court, colluded with witnesses who supported him and threatened those who might give evidence against him, a federal court judge has found in an excoriating judgment to conclude the ex-soldier’s failed defamation case against three newspapers.
Justice Anthony Besanko found Roberts-Smith, a recipient of the Victoria Cross and Australia’s most decorated living soldier, murdered civilians while on deployment with the SAS in Afghanistan and lied in his evidence, under oath, before court.
“I have difficulty accepting the applicant’s [Robert-Smith’s] evidence on any disputed issue,” the judge said.
Roberts-Smith had brought the defamation action against the Age, the Sydney Morning Herald, and the Canberra Times, claiming they had falsely portrayed him as a war criminal, a murderer and a bully.
The newspaper successfully defended their reporting as true, with the judge dismissing Roberts-Smith’s claims in their entirety. The case could cost Roberts-Smith and his benefactor and backer, Kerry Stokes, up to $35m.
An appeal by Roberts-Smith to the full bench of the federal court is expected. Despite attending every day of the court hearing, Roberts-Smith was not in Australia to hear the judgment delivered last Thursday.