Ben Roberts-Smith defamation loss bad news for Seven boss as Nine marks ‘day of justice’

3 months ago 38

For Seven’s chairman, Kerry Stokes, the verdict successful the Ben Roberts-Smith defamation proceedings was each atrocious news.

The outgo of the proceedings is estimated to beryllium betwixt $25m and $35m and, with the billionaire media proprietor bankrolling the erstwhile worker and Seven employee, Stokes’s ineligible tab volition beryllium important if helium does prime up the bill.

For Nine newspapers – who published the stories alleging Roberts-Smith committed warfare crimes successful Afghanistan – the ruling was a vindication of the enactment by journalists Nick McKenzie and Chris Masters. It was besides a alleviation for those liable for the media giant’s bottommost enactment and the estimation of its mastheads.

Lawyers for Nine person asked for respective weeks to taxable their exertion concernings costs.

Seven says Roberts-Smith remains connected permission from his presumption arsenic wide manager of Seven Queensland – a occupation Stokes parachuted him into successful 2015.

“Ben remains connected permission and volition reappraisal the judgement with america and marque a determination connected his aboriginal successful the adjacent future,” a Seven spokesperson said connected Thursday. “We volition marque nary further remark astatine this time.”

Stokes said helium had not spoken to Roberts-Smith but “the judgement does not accord with the antheral I know”.

“I cognize this volition beryllium peculiarly hard for Ben, who has ever maintained his innocence,” Stokes said connected Thursday. “That his chap soldiers person disagreed with each other, this result volition beryllium the root of further grief.”

The reporters who wrote the articles published successful the Sydney Morning Herald, the Age and the Canberra Times stood triumphant connected the steps of the tribunal but chose to absorption not connected their hard-won victory, but alternatively Roberts-Smith’s victims.

Their allegations that helium engaged successful warfare crimes – including murdering civilians and ordering subordinate soldiers nether his bid to execute civilians successful alleged “blooding” incidents – had been found to beryllium true connected the equilibrium of probabilities.

Sydney Morning Herald and The Age writer Nick McKenzie said “today is simply a time of justice” including for the “brave men of the SAS who stood up and told the information astir who Ben Roberts-Smith is: a warfare criminal, a bully and a liar”.

— The Sydney Morning Herald (@smh) June 1, 2023

McKenzie said it was the “toughest combat of our journalistic careers”.

He said it was a “day of justice” and called for Australia to beryllium arrogant of the brave soldiers who spoke to him and Masters astir the crimes committed successful Afghanistan.

“It’s a time of justness for those brave men of the SAS who stood up and told the information astir who Ben Roberts-Smith is: a warfare criminal, a bully and a liar,” McKenzie said.

With Roberts-Smith absent from the tribunal for his time of reckoning, McKenzie said helium wanted the erstwhile worker to bespeak connected the symptom helium had caused and the “children who nary longer person a father”.

“I’d similar Ben Roberts-Smith to bespeak connected the symptom that he’s brought tons of men successful the SAS who person stood up and told the information astir his conduct,” helium said. “Some had letters sent to them, threatening letters. I’d similar Ben Roberts-Smith to bespeak connected the radical helium murdered, the antheral who kicked disconnected a cliff, the Afghan villagers. That’s what I deliberation Ben Roberts-Smith should bespeak on.”

Masters thanked Nine for publishing the stories, saying that editorial determination would “go down successful the past of the quality concern arsenic 1 of the large calls”.

The seasoned of countless tribunal battles for his erstwhile ABC investigations said it wasn’t a acheronian time for Australia’s equipped forces but a bully time for Australian soldiers who had the “physical and motivation courage” to archer “the hard truth”.

“It was 110 days of them being punished successful the witnesser box,” Masters said. “And they did truthful wonderfully well, I’m truthful grateful to each of them.”

The media world Dr Andrea Carson of La Trobe University said it was a monumental triumph for investigative journalism.

“It is simply a triumph for the 4th property and a triumph for antiauthoritarian accountability,” Carson said. “It shows however important journalism is arsenic a mechanics to radiance airy successful acheronian places and uncover truths that those with powerfulness privation to support hidden. Nine is to beryllium commended for committing millions of dollars to support and enactment its investigative journalists by enabling them the means to archer this important story.”

Nine’s managing manager of publishing, James Chessell, said the institution would proceed to clasp radical progressive successful warfare crimes to account.

“Publishing a communicative of this magnitude is ne'er easy, but high-quality investigative journalism is captious to a thriving democracy,” Chessell said. “Nine’s unequivocal backing of this reporting and our defence of it is simply a wide objection of its committedness to prime journalism.”

The media national described the triumph arsenic a “big and important triumph for journalism and property state successful Australia”.

Karen Percy from the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance said the ruling “upholds the media’s important relation successful undertaking nationalist involvement investigations and successful the public’s close to know”.

With Australian Associated Press

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