Decorated Australian soldier and Seven West Media executive Ben Roberts-Smith will take Fairfax Media to court over “baseless allegations” printed by the publisher.
Roberts-Smith, who is a Victoria Cross recipient and the general manager of Seven Queensland, said in a statement on Sunday that he will commence defamation proceedings against Fairfax.
The statement comes after the Federal Court of Australia dismissed an application by Roberts-Smith on Friday to restrain Fairfax from continuing to publish articles he believes contain a number of false allegations about him and his service in Afghanistan.
The allegations include that he mistreated unarmed Afghans in 2010, and bullied and intimidated fellow soldiers.
A Fairfax report also mentioned an extramarital affair that Roberts-Smith was having with his mistress, and that the lady involved reported to police an alleged act of domestic violence and intimidation.
An inquiry into actions by the Australian special forces, including Roberts-Smith, in Afghanistan, is currently being conducted by the Assistant Inspector General of the Australian Defence Force.
Roberts-Smith said Fairfax told the Federal Court it had done nothing wrong in publishing the allegations, and that the publisher “intends to continue with wanton disregard to Commonwealth law and perpetuate a smear campaign”.
“The current position is unfair not only to me, but all members of the ADF whose service to our country is being attacked by individuals who choose to hide behind anonymous leaking to the media of operational matters in breach of the Defence Act,” he said.
“These people know I cannot respond in detail to their assertions without compromising national security and myself breaching the Defence Act. I would never do that.
“I would ask those making and publishing these allegations to stop their conduct and allow the inquiry to complete its work.”
Lawyers of Roberts-Smith have requested for Attorney-General Christian Porter to refer the matter to the AFP for an investigation.
“I look forward to in due course responding to the baseless allegations made against me,” Roberts-Smith said.
“When I do so, I will respond in a manner which is consistent with my obligations to uphold the laws of the Commonwealth.”
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