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EXCLUSIVE | Seven confirms it will stand by BEN ROBERTS-SMITH despite latest allegations

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The Seven Network has responded strongly to a series of reports published by 60 Minutes and Nine owned newspapers regarding alleged crimes by former soldier Ben Roberts-Smith.

On Sunday evening, 60 Minutes and Nine owned newspapers, SMH and The Age published a series of reports by award-winning journalist Nick McKenzie, outlining allegations that decorated Australian soldier Ben Roberts-Smith, had buried evidence in his backyard instead of handing it over to an investigation into possible war crimes.

Nine alleges this buried material provides evidence of depraved conduct by Special Air Services Regiment soldiers.

Ben Roberts-Smith, (highlighted) attending a party at an Australian Military base in Afganistan (image - Nine)
Ben Roberts-Smith, (highlighted) attending a party at an Australian Military base in Afganistan (image – Nine)

As part of the report, 60 Minutes broadcast images of one soldier dressed in a Ku Klux Klan outfit and holding a burning cross. Other photos appear to depict soldiers drinking alcohol from a prosthetic leg allegedly taken from a Taliban fighter killed by an Australian soldier in 2009.

The publication of this latest material by 60 Minutes, SMH and The Age, come at the same time as Mr Roberts-Smith is currently proceeding with defamation action against Nine for previously published reports which alleged the Victoria Cross recipient murdered an unarmed Afghan civilian by kicking him off a cliff.

As part of the latest investigation, Nine has also published audio recordings which appear to depict Ben Roberts-Smith praising Seven West Media owner Kerry Stokes for funding his current legal battles.

“It’s bizarre. Other businesses would have just gone, ‘Mate, it’s not tenable’. I offered to resign at the start [of the war crimes scandal] and they said, ‘Nah’,”

In an additional audio recording, a voice alleged by Nine to be Ben Roberts-Smith is heard to say;

“There’s no f—ing way I’d be able to keep paying what I’m paying for until Kerry got into it. That’s why now they’re shitting themselves because they realise he’s prepared to run his bank down to do it,”

Ben Roberts-Smith has been employed by Seven since 2014 in a role that sees him manage the networks Queensland operations.

In a statement provided to TV Blackbox on Sunday evening, Seven has indicated it currently has no plans for Roberts-Smith to be stood down from his role at the network.

Seven Network notes the denial by its Seven Queensland Managing Director Ben Roberts Smith VC of the allegations aired by Nine on 60 Minutes last night and as further published in the Nine newspapers. 

Insofar as most of the material aired is old, Seven notes that it is before the Federal Court and the court process should be respected. Insofar as new allegations are made they do not appear to be supported by evidence.

In the circumstances Seven does not need to reconsider it’s position concerning Mr Roberts Smith and him continuing in his position.

Seven repeats that as a non-party it is constrained by what it can or should say concerning the current defamation proceedings before the Court which are the subject of the Nine stories.

Mr Roberts-Smith has grave concerns as to whether the broadcast this evening by Nine is an attempt to intimidate him into not proceeding with his case against Mr McKenzie and Nine. 

Mr McKenzie and Nine are currently Respondents to defamation proceedings in the Federal Court. These allegations are not supported by any evidence filed by Mr McKenzie and Nine in what has been an extensive pre-trial process.

Mr McKenzie has chosen not to give evidence in support of the allegations he has made against Mr Roberts-Smith repeatedly over the past three years.

The allegations aired this evening are baseless. These allegations are not supported by any evidence filed by Mr McKenzie and Nine in what has been an extensive pre-trial process.

These allegations were not put to Mr Roberts-Smith prior to being broadcast on 60 Minutes and published in the Nine newspapers.

Had Mr McKenzie or Nine wished to engage in impartial or objective journalism, they would have sought Mr Roberts-Smith’s comment on the so called “shameful” allegations which Mr McKenzie asserted had been the subject of a ‘major and deep investigation’.

Mr Roberts-Smith denies that he has engaged in any unlawful conduct and he will not be intimidated by Mr McKenzie or Nine into not continuing with the Federal Court proceedings against them.

- ADVERTISEMENT -

The Seven Network has responded strongly to a series of reports published by 60 Minutes and Nine owned newspapers regarding alleged crimes by former soldier Ben Roberts-Smith.

On Sunday evening, 60 Minutes and Nine owned newspapers, SMH and The Age published a series of reports by award-winning journalist Nick McKenzie, outlining allegations that decorated Australian soldier Ben Roberts-Smith, had buried evidence in his backyard instead of handing it over to an investigation into possible war crimes.

Nine alleges this buried material provides evidence of depraved conduct by Special Air Services Regiment soldiers.

Ben Roberts-Smith, (highlighted) attending a party at an Australian Military base in Afganistan (image - Nine)
Ben Roberts-Smith, (highlighted) attending a party at an Australian Military base in Afganistan (image – Nine)

As part of the report, 60 Minutes broadcast images of one soldier dressed in a Ku Klux Klan outfit and holding a burning cross. Other photos appear to depict soldiers drinking alcohol from a prosthetic leg allegedly taken from a Taliban fighter killed by an Australian soldier in 2009.

- ADVERTISEMENT -

The publication of this latest material by 60 Minutes, SMH and The Age, come at the same time as Mr Roberts-Smith is currently proceeding with defamation action against Nine for previously published reports which alleged the Victoria Cross recipient murdered an unarmed Afghan civilian by kicking him off a cliff.

As part of the latest investigation, Nine has also published audio recordings which appear to depict Ben Roberts-Smith praising Seven West Media owner Kerry Stokes for funding his current legal battles.

“It’s bizarre. Other businesses would have just gone, ‘Mate, it’s not tenable’. I offered to resign at the start [of the war crimes scandal] and they said, ‘Nah’,”

In an additional audio recording, a voice alleged by Nine to be Ben Roberts-Smith is heard to say;

“There’s no f—ing way I’d be able to keep paying what I’m paying for until Kerry got into it. That’s why now they’re shitting themselves because they realise he’s prepared to run his bank down to do it,”

Ben Roberts-Smith has been employed by Seven since 2014 in a role that sees him manage the networks Queensland operations.

In a statement provided to TV Blackbox on Sunday evening, Seven has indicated it currently has no plans for Roberts-Smith to be stood down from his role at the network.

Seven Network notes the denial by its Seven Queensland Managing Director Ben Roberts Smith VC of the allegations aired by Nine on 60 Minutes last night and as further published in the Nine newspapers. 

Insofar as most of the material aired is old, Seven notes that it is before the Federal Court and the court process should be respected. Insofar as new allegations are made they do not appear to be supported by evidence.

In the circumstances Seven does not need to reconsider it’s position concerning Mr Roberts Smith and him continuing in his position.

Seven repeats that as a non-party it is constrained by what it can or should say concerning the current defamation proceedings before the Court which are the subject of the Nine stories.

Mr Roberts-Smith has grave concerns as to whether the broadcast this evening by Nine is an attempt to intimidate him into not proceeding with his case against Mr McKenzie and Nine. 

Mr McKenzie and Nine are currently Respondents to defamation proceedings in the Federal Court. These allegations are not supported by any evidence filed by Mr McKenzie and Nine in what has been an extensive pre-trial process.

Mr McKenzie has chosen not to give evidence in support of the allegations he has made against Mr Roberts-Smith repeatedly over the past three years.

The allegations aired this evening are baseless. These allegations are not supported by any evidence filed by Mr McKenzie and Nine in what has been an extensive pre-trial process.

These allegations were not put to Mr Roberts-Smith prior to being broadcast on 60 Minutes and published in the Nine newspapers.

Had Mr McKenzie or Nine wished to engage in impartial or objective journalism, they would have sought Mr Roberts-Smith’s comment on the so called “shameful” allegations which Mr McKenzie asserted had been the subject of a ‘major and deep investigation’.

Mr Roberts-Smith denies that he has engaged in any unlawful conduct and he will not be intimidated by Mr McKenzie or Nine into not continuing with the Federal Court proceedings against them.

Kevin Perryhttps://tvblackbox.com.au/author-kevin-perry/
Co-Creator and Editor of the TV Blackbox website, Kevin Perry is an experienced media commentator focused on TV Production, Consumer Tech, SVOD & Sports Broadcasting. Media enquiries please Call or Text 0428-275-111
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