The headline-making defamation trial between Ben Roberts-Smith and three major newspapers may be relocated to a Covid-19 free state.
The Guardian reported that Robert-Smiths barrister, Bruce McClintock SC told the court in a virtual hearing on Wednesday, “It may be necessary … to reconsider the venue of these proceedings at some point, depending on what happens.
“If, say, Sydney is in lockdown for another two months, your honour may wish to consider the possibility of either Adelaide or Perth,”
This news comes after the trial has been put on hold indefinitely due to the COVID-19 outbreak in Sydney. Forcing all involved to have to wait it out.
However, the Sydney lockdown has already been extended until the end of July.
Roberts-Smith is currently suing The Age, The Canberra Times & The Sydney Morning Herald, two of which are owned by Nine.
The publications have accused the former SAS soldier of everything from war crimes to infidelity. Roberts-Smith has denied all allegations and the newspapers have opted for a truth defence.
This push for a new location comes after Nines legal team proposed that the trial needed to continue despite the COVID-19 outbreak in Sydney, because of safety concerns for four Afghan witnesses. The witnesses are currently in a safe house in Kabul, waiting to testify via video link.
The legal team proposed the trial could resume just for one week, so the Afgan witnesses testimonies could be heard.
However, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, McClintock SC, said: “We are very concerned about the public health aspects of such a hearing.”
The defamation case will return to court via online hearing on Monday.
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