Kerry Stokes’ Defence Of Ben Roberts-Smith Could Cost Him North Of $30m

Kerry Stokes’ Defence Of Ben Roberts-Smith Could Cost Him North Of $30m

Kerry Stokes, chairman of Seven West Media, notably bankrolled Ben Robert-Smith’s unsuccessful defamation lawsuit against Nine last year, with a Federal Court judge finding that the former SAS soldier had, on the balance of probability murdered four Afghan civilians.

Stokes agreed to pay The Sydney Morning Herald’s legal fees on an indemnity basis which left him facing a $16 million bill.

However, that cost also accrues interest from the date of the order to the day that they’re paid. Currently, this is running at 10.1 per cent per annum. Roberts-Smith is due for an appeal hearing, too, meaning that a judgement may not be delivered until early next year.

Should the appeal fail, the Herald estimated that Stokes would need to pay around $3 million in interest plus $910,000 in security to cover the paper’s costs for the appeal. Combined with his own lawyer fees, the SMH reckons that Stokes could be on the hook for at least $30 million.

However, this isn’t the only time recently that Seven would seem to have backed the wrong horse in a high-profile defamation case. The network is currently spending $2,000 per week to cover Bruce Lehrmann’s rent on a property in Sydney’s Northern Beaches.

Lehrmann had been accused of raping fellow Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins and is suing Network Ten and The Project host Lisa Wilkinson for defamation after Higgins aired the allegations but left Lehrmann unnamed. Lehrmann denies all charges.




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