Australian war veteran plans appeal after losing landmark defamation case
Australian war veteran Ben Roberts-Smith intends to appeal after losing a landmark defamation case against three newspapers.
The Victoria Cross recipient sued The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Canberra Times over stories published in 2018.
Last month, Justice Anthony Besanko dismissed the proceedings after finding, to the civil standard, there was substantial truth to allegations of four unlawful killings in Afghanistan and bullying.
Roberts-Smith's legal team on Tuesday filed a notice of appeal in the Federal Court, after receiving an extension to the normal time frame within which to launch it.
In his full judgement, which ran to some 730 pages, Justice Besanko described the former elite soldier as "not an honest and reliable witness in ... many areas".
He was also found to have multiple reasons to lie, including a financial motive to support his claim for damages, the restoration of his reputation and a motive to resist findings against him.
Roberts-Smith, who did not attend court on the day of the decision and was in Bali that week, previously signalled he does not agree with the judgement.
He told Nine he was "devastated" by the result.
"It's a terrible outcome and it's the incorrect outcome," he said as he flew into Perth.
The question of who will pay the enormous legal bill is continuing to play out in the court.
This month, Justice Besanko was told Roberts-Smith accepted he should pay on an indemnity basis from March 2020 onwards, however, there remained a dispute about who foots the bill for costs incurred prior to that.
Investigative journalist Chris Masters, who was a respondent in the case, has previously said about $35 million was spent successfully defending it.
Publisher Nine Entertainment is seeking a third party costs order against the veteran's former employer, the Seven Network, and the private firm of Kerry Stokes.
Both entities had loan agreements with Roberts-Smith at different times.
Nine recently secured a minor win as it pursues the costs order, with the judge allowing subpoenas to two law firms that were engaged to observe Roberts-Smith's legal battle on behalf of the companies.
- This story was first published by the ABC