Ben Roberts-Smith VC loses defamation case

The verdict in the defamation case brought by Ben Robert-Smith against Fairfax Media and others was handed down this afternoon.

FILE PHOTO: Australian Army soldier Corporal Benjamin Roberts-Smith, VC, MG, takes a seat after being awarded the Victoria Cross for Australia during the investiture ceremony in Perth on 23 January 2011. Photo by Corporal Chris Moore.

Justice Anthony Besanko handed down his verdict this afternoon, broadcast live from the Federal Court of Australia via YouTube.

Justice Besanko ruled on a total of 16 matters of complaint made by ‘the applicant’, Ben Roberts-Smith VC.

While some of the complaints brought by Ben Roberts-Smith were not contested by the defendants, some were contested on the basis of substantial truth or contextual truth.

Justice Besanko went through a fairly lengthy and technical reading of his judgement, and didn’t, at this time, publish his reasons for his judgement (his reasons will be published, redacted of sensitive information, after the Commonwealth has vetted the justice’s reasons for sensitive information – no later than next Monday afternoon)…..

However, Justice Besanko found in favour of the defendants – i.e. the case against the media outlets and journalists was dismissed on the basis that they had, in significant part, proven to Justice Besanko’s satisfaction an adequate level of either substantial truth or contextual truth.

Ben Roberts-Smith was not in court today to hear the verdict – reported by other media (with photographic evidence) to be at a resort in Bali.

 

In relation to the video above – while the initial reading of Justice Besanko’s decisions were broadcast live, the video feed was made ‘private’ when it progressed into an area of discussion over sensitive information.

 

Feel free to comment below.
However, please be careful and respectful. Ben Roberts-Smith is still innocent until proven guilty of any charges that may be brought against him – and so far, he has not been charged.
On the flip side, the journalists in this case have been vindicated.
Any comments that step over (or even skirt around) the ‘presumption of innocence’ or ‘defamation’ in any aspect of this issue will be deleted – to protect my arse ????

Brian Hartigan
Editor


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Posted by Brian Hartigan

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26 thoughts on “Ben Roberts-Smith VC loses defamation case

  • 03/06/2023 at 5:17 am
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    They do it in the USA,they do it here in England and quite obviously there in Australia, for god’s sake people leave our hero’s alone,no one will want to join the forces if this is the way their treated,head up lad you ain’t done nothing wrong

    Reply
    • 03/09/2023 at 9:22 am
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      You are exactly right Ben truly is a hero and deserves every award he has and more. There is a very fine line between putting your fellow soldiers in enormous danger and being foolish and trusting anyone over there. Just because they seem like poor innocent farmers
      There is always a very good chance that they are high up in the Taliban. What would people be saying about him if his lack of judgement got a platoon of our best and bravest men killed. He’s an elite soldier who has to my very difficult decisions in a split second. I’m sure he’d love to have the luxury of hindsight like all these so called legal professionals who are destroying a truly amazing man’s reputation while they sit around in their osh elitest clubs smoking cigars and drinking single malt. They should just remember that if it wasn’t real men like Ben they’d be crouched over on a rice paddy somewhere praying that today won’t be the day a member of cruelest most inhumane people don’t decide that today is I nice fun day to walk Up behind you and push you to your knees and removing your brilliant legal mine with one or two swings of his family hairloom Samari sword. Ben Smith is a soldier not an aid worker. I know for a fact that the diggers in world war 2 had to do some things to stay alive and keep our county an women a children alive and not raped and bayoneted for jap entertainment. Ask the Chinese how wonderful and caring the animals were to the Chinese people when they occupyed china and if doesn’t make shed a lot of tears then you probably aren’t human.Having said all this the cold hard facts of fighting an enemy that love nothing better than capturing enemy soldiers and cutting their heads off with a blunt knife too entertain their kids instead of watching the wiggles or sesame Street. Then you have to assume that everyone you meet want’s nothing more than to kill you slowly and painfully on video for your whole family to watch and remember for the rest their days. Leave the soldiering to the real men like Ben and go back to worrying about the biggest problems you encounter each day like weather or not your Cuban cigars are at the perfect humidity and every time you light one up just remember who the people are who who Risk everything so you can have your smooth soft little stumpy fingers and go home to get slapped around buy your beautiful wife’s each night by the way Bryan thanks for sticking up for a true Australian hero. I truly believe that every Australian man and woman between the age of 16 and 75 should have some basic training and Australia should have enough combat gear for everyone stuff their crappy submarines our future enemy is going to come down through Indonesia and there will be enough of them to defeat us with chopsticks. And if the people think it
      The rest of the world is going to help us they are living in fantasy land. Do you really think the Ukraine are going to come to our rescue yet we keep giving them our military equipment. And now our genius leaders have decided to provide Indonesia with the man carriers just to make it easier for the Chinese to drive down here and because of the genius of howerd we don’t even have enough guns to go rabbits hunting let alone fend off the most powerful army in the world
      They must laugh at us every time they think about us. By the time they come to invade they won’t even need weapons
      Because they already half the country
      They can just arrive and tell us to get Off their land. I tell my grandfather and the rest of the diggers would be turning in their graves. Im so glad they aren’t around to witness this ultimate act of treason

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    • 08/11/2023 at 3:06 am
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      Ben Robert Smith did nothing wrong in my eyes.
      I am 71 years of age 72 at Christmas.
      I believe Ben was a soldier and I bet it was
      Kill or be killed.
      I definitely admire you Ben Robert – Smith.
      All the very best in the future.
      Susan Hedges.
      New South Wales
      Australia ????????

      Reply
  • 02/06/2023 at 6:09 pm
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    Ben, I can only imagine that you are being treated by the woke media and judicial system just the same as Archbishop George Pell and more recently, Mr Lehrman. As I see it, nobody has a right to judge you unless they have been in action, especially in a place like Afghanistan where the bad guys don’t wear black hats and women and children cannot be trusted not to knife you in the back or roll a grenade your way.
    I greatly admire your bravery, your integrity, your professionalism, and your dedication to the safety of your men. I have the same respect for any Australian soldier who has fought in Afghanistan.
    Hang tough. Would you consider crowdfunding to clear your name and reputation?

    Reply
  • 02/06/2023 at 1:25 pm
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    Wow, wow, wow. So many aUstraliaNs salivating over Australian hero’s being hung out to dry by the billion dollar funded Australian media. It’s a dirty job and someone’s gotta do it, I was once told. Seems about right. I find the allegations are simply still that. It’s a financial decision and loss for one side of this argument, akin to losing a bet. There is no way this call will fly in a criminal case as I feel people who give a toss about this country will rise up and say enough.
    Unfortunately, BRS lives in the land that invented Tall Poppy Syndrome and unfortunately Ben is one tall man in frame and stature. I support him. It’s a different place out there and the rules can’t be a one way street if you want to stay alive. People say all sorts of things to progress their goals and agendas. It’s not always a simple story to unravel as our editor Brian would prefer. There is an expected level of knowledge, history and experience most will have when appreciating how these things unfold. Plain and simple, if you think this is just about BRS and the allegations simply found to be ‘likely’ not financially liable etc. Essentially, with enough money, you can orchestrate the truth and sway public opinion and thus change things around in the political process. All of us should know that this can happen whenever the corporate media / govt wants to take out a potential threat. For instance, the man would have been a difficult opponent in any election, I’ll bet.

    Reply
  • 02/06/2023 at 11:58 am
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    Just to be clear, BRS has NOT been found guilty of, nor even charged with any offence. Whilst the verdict is extremely damaging it is by no way a verdict of guilty. This is a civil trial without the same burden of proof required by a criminal trial. Whilst it would be fairly safe to assume, that it is very likely that at some point criminal charges may be laid, until that time I remain standing to support BRS. Remember that in this country one is presumed innocent until proven guilty, and at this point in Ben Roberts-Smith VC, MG is innocent!

    I support Ben Roberts-Smith VC, MG

    Reply
  • 02/06/2023 at 8:12 am
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    It’s disappointing to read most comments above. Our military are there to defend our nation and its values. What was alleged of Roberts-Smith are not in accordance with the values that I served to defend. I’m sure that the majority of our current and previous serving members would be disgusted to read of these alleged actions being committed by some in our military.

    We don’t needed these people. We all should be condeming what is alleged to have occurred because it tarnishes all of us who are serving and have served!

    Reply
    • 05/06/2023 at 11:44 am
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      To Raymond,
      If the alleged offences are proven in a criminal court of law, I’ll be outraged then and only then!

      Reply
  • 02/06/2023 at 6:32 am
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    These soldiers are the Australian’s elite and the pinnacle of excellence to strive for! So many soldiers and new recruits look up to these men taking away from them will cripple our defence forces and the numbers of new recruits will drop even further.

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  • 01/06/2023 at 6:38 pm
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    Have you been in his boots is a cop-out for soldiers and especially for spec-ops soldiers.

    These allegations relate to people who have already been taken prisoner, other allegations relating to other sas members relate to shooting unarmed civilians.

    These men are chosen for their coolness under fire and critical thinking…at a bare minimum, they’re chosen for mateship — courage — initiative. Where is the moral courage? Or even the human decency?

    SAS selection alone would traumatise most regular citizens! These guys are elite, so spare me “you don’t know what it’s like” nonsense.

    Reply
  • 01/06/2023 at 5:55 pm
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    Snowflakes. Step away from the decaf soy latte for a minute and try to walk a mile in the man’s shoes…

    Reply
  • 01/06/2023 at 5:46 pm
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    Such a sad day for what I believe is the best military on this planet.
    How many civilians have been killed in Ukraine.
    Yet some assume the mantle of justice from behind desks.
    So sad – “poor fellow my county”

    Reply
  • 01/06/2023 at 5:19 pm
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    Have you been in Ben’s situation on operational service? If not don’t count on the Media or persons who will follow a political agenda to give you the truth, Ben was awarded the VC for a completely different operation, some of these comments are made by ‘keyboard Warriors’. Remember unless you Patrolled in his Boots, fought in his uniform, been inside his head and soul WE DON’T know. what happened, are there others who have done worse? After speaking to Soldiers who served with him they have said: If you’re in the thick of it, Ben’s the type of Bloke you’d want by your side..
    It reeks of the ‘Tall Poppy Syndrome’. I for one feel he has suffered greatly, both personally and professionally don’t we have enough of our Vets suffering already?
    .

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  • 01/06/2023 at 5:00 pm
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    The man deserved his VC! It should never be taken away from him!

    In saying that, all the criminals who killed prisoners after they’ve been contained, or have shot people in fields then planted radios on them should be tried for their war crimes, and if found guilty be sent to prison (alas the Morant/Handcock punishment is no longer allowed) for a long time. May they burn in eternal hell who tarnish the Australian uniform!

    “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required; and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.” (Luke 12:48)

    Reply
  • 01/06/2023 at 4:54 pm
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    Best wishes BRS. I thank you for your service.

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  • 01/06/2023 at 4:33 pm
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    I haven’t a clue if the man is innocent or guilty, but I have as much faith in the honesty, integrity and ethics of the Australian Justice system, the Australian media and journalists as I do anything posted by the Kremlin or Beijing.

    Reply
    • 01/06/2023 at 4:55 pm
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      Many of the Witnesses were SASR and spoke their Truth.
      I am No Fan of the Media and ex-Army myself. At the end of the day, people are Hurting and Justice has to be believed.
      Ben and the Troopers who gave evidence deserve equal Respect and Dignity, and I hope that happens. Afghanistan is like nowhere else on God’s earth it is where Evil calls Home, and it has messed up the minds of Soldiers from many nations over the last Century or so. We have already lost too many to Suicide, and I fear, Gen Angus campbell will be doing a Jig over the Juydges findings, and sadly, it gives him new energy to attack other Veterans from the Afghanistan War. Please be Respectful when speaking about our Soldiers doing a hard Job in a hard Country, under the Pressure of the Politicians, to do what they do well.

      Reply
  • 01/06/2023 at 4:29 pm
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    What a great pity. I have not been following the case thoroughly mainly because it has been communicated by the media, which today is so partisan and lacking in ethics.
    Currently when a part of the media get a set on someone, the others seem to uncontrollably jump in too. They cant help themselves.
    I believe that our VC winners and other occasional high profile people should be protected in some way from this relentless, often biased pressure by the media. It must be overwhelming.
    Good luck Ben.

    Reply
  • 01/06/2023 at 4:00 pm
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    Truth / Media / $$ – choose 1

    Reply
  • 01/06/2023 at 3:36 pm
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    I don’t know about the rights and wrong of this case. I haven’t followed it sufficiently – deliberately didn’t want to be a voyeur or relish the court drama. However, I am saddened the VC decoration itself is a little tarnished; it was going to happen whatever the result. Unfortunately, I suspect potential further events, will again tarnish the medal. We should always remember the VC is won by heroic courage. VC winners also represent those who showed immense courage but were never ‘seen’ or acknowledged. Please let us be respectful in our comments.

    Reply
    • 01/06/2023 at 4:23 pm
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      The VC is ‘won’ on the information provided by others who were there, its not an infallable process.

      Though once its awarded it cannot be withdrawn.

      Reply
  • 01/06/2023 at 3:21 pm
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    Please be careful with comments on this story. He is still innocent until proven guilty of any charges that may be brough against him – and so far, he has not been charged with anything.
    Any comments that step over (or even skirt around) the ‘presumption of innocence’ or ‘defamation’ line will be deleted – to protect my arse 😉
    Brian Hartigan
    Editor

    Reply
    • 02/06/2023 at 10:07 am
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      Ben you are my hero! You like many others. You are a soilder who my middle son was so inspired by that he has now joined the forces. The press…mmmmm moving on.. thank you to all the Australian Defence Force for serving our country and putting your life on the line, leaving the people close to you to face conditions that words can’t describe! I’m so proud to be an Australian. Stay safe all and don’t believe everything you hear or see.

      Reply

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