Australian Army soldier Corporal Benjamin Roberts-Smith. Picture: Department of Defence
Australian Army soldier Corporal Benjamin Roberts-Smith. Picture: Department of Defence

Ben Roberts-Smith hits back at claims

Australia's most decorated soldier, Ben Roberts-Smith, has released a lengthy statement claiming a bombshell report aired on Sunday night was "not supported by any evidence".

The report, which ran on 60 Minutes and in The Age and Sydney Morning Herald newspapers claimed hundreds of photographs from his time in Afghanistan were uncovered during a police search in his Queensland backyard.

It was alleged a lunchbox containing USB drives included hundreds of lewd images showing soldiers drinking from the prosthetic leg of an Afghan man was killed by an Australian soldier.

Another image showed an Afghan man with blood all over his face and two Australian souvenir coins placed over his eyes.

 

Ben Roberts-Smith alleged hid photos in a lunchbox in his backyard. Picture: 60 Minutes
Ben Roberts-Smith alleged hid photos in a lunchbox in his backyard. Picture: 60 Minutes

 

In a statement, Mr Roberts-Smith, who lived on the Sunshine Coast before selling up, claimed the story had been released as a means of "intimidating him into not proceeding with" a defamation claim against reporter Nick McKenzie and the Nine Network.

"Mr McKenzie and Nine are currently Respondents to defamation proceedings in the Federal Court," the statement read.

"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.

RELATED: Photos found in Roberts-Smith's backyard

Ben Roberts-Smith in a photo with a soldier drinking from the prosthetic leg of a killed Afghan man. Picture: 60 Minutes
Ben Roberts-Smith in a photo with a soldier drinking from the prosthetic leg of a killed Afghan man. Picture: 60 Minutes

 

"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.

"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."

 

A soldier wearing a Ku Klux Klan costume holds a burning cross at a party attended by Ben Roberts-Smith in footage aired on 60 Minutes
A soldier wearing a Ku Klux Klan costume holds a burning cross at a party attended by Ben Roberts-Smith in footage aired on 60 Minutes

 

Footage aired on 60 Minutes showed Mr Roberts-Smith at a dress-up party at a bar in Afghanistan where a soldier was dressed in a Ku Klux Klan outfit. Another image showed a commanding officer simulating a sex act with a fellow soldier.

The photos were taken on both Australian and Afghanistan bases.

Retired Admiral Chris Barrie, the former chief of the defence force, told journalist Nick McKenzie he strongly condemned the image.

"That's certainly not on," he said.

Mr Roberts-Smith, who is the Queensland managing director for Seven Network, will continue in his role, a spokesperson said on Monday.

Seven also defended their employee against the claims made in Sunday night's program.

"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," the spokesperson said.

 

 

Originally published as Ben Roberts-Smith hits back at claims



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