Billionaire who bankrolled Ben Roberts-Smith’s lawsuit against Nine had NO IDEA he was sunning himself in Bali – after propping up $30m case
- War hero sunbaking in Bali as damning defamation judgement was revealed
- Billionaire bankrolling court action was unaware he’d skip judgement
Photographs showing Victoria Cross recipient Ben Roberts-Smith sunbaking in Bali on the eve of judgement in his multi-million-dollar defamation ‘trial of the century’ surprised even the billionaire who was bankrolling the case.
The SAS veteran skipped Thursday’s judgement day in the Federal Court on Thursday, in which Justice Anthony Besanko dismissed his case against Nine Newspapers and found the war hero was complicit in the murder of three unarmed Afghan men.
Rather than taking his place in Sydney’s Federal Court, Australia’s most decorated war hero was 4,000km away, sunbaking in swimmers on a lounger by the pool at a luxury $500-a-night resort in Indonesia.
And according to The Australian’s Margin Call column, media magnate Kerry Stokes didn’t have a clue.
SAS veteran Ben Roberts-Smith was 4,000km away, sunbaking in swimmers on a lounger by the pool at a luxury $500-a-night resort in Indonesia as the verdict was revealed
The court found Ben Roberts-Smith (pictured with partner Sarah Matulin) was responsible for the murder of three unarmed Afghan men, was a ‘callous and inhumane’ war criminal and bullied his own men
The billionaire Seven boss employs Roberts-Smith as a network executive and was convinced of the ex-soldier’s innocence, prompting him to bankroll the fight.
The court case – which ran for 110 days over four years – was the second-longest and most expensive defamation trial Australia has ever seen.
Experts say the final bill is already up to $30million for Roberts-Smith’s legal team, before the cost of a possible appeal or paying costs to Nine Newspapers.
But Mr Stokes, executive chairman of Seven West Media, was reportedly blindsided by the absence of Roberts-Smith from the final day in court to hear the judge’s ruling.
Mr Stokes said after the judge’s ruling that he hadn’t had ‘a chance to have a discussion with Ben as yet, but I will when he has had a chance to fully absorb the judgement.’
Billionaire Seven boss Kerry Stokes now employs Roberts-Smith as a network executive and was convinced of the ex-soldier’s innocence, prompting him to bankroll the fight
Mr Stokes said he was ‘disappointed’ in the verdict as it ‘does not accord with the man I know’.
‘I know this will be particularly hard for Ben, who has always maintained his innocence,’ he said.
‘That his fellow soldiers have disagreed with each other, this outcome will be the source of additional grief.’
Daily Mail Australia asked Seven if they regretted backing Mr Roberts-Smith or if they would instead be bankrolling any appeal lodged by him but the company declined to comment.
Seven Group Holdings, the parent company for Channel Seven, saw its share price fall nine cents as the judgement was announced, but recovered before the close of trading.