Roberts-Smith, 42, is suing three newspapers in the Federal Court in Sydney over claims in 2018 media reports he says paint him as a criminal who broke the moral and legal rules of engagement during his military deployments
Ben Roberts-Smith was sent a letter by a ‘friend at 7’ urging him to end his affair, as explosive text messages between the war hero and his mistress are revealed.
Roberts-Smith, 42, is suing three newspapers in the Federal Court in Sydney over claims in 2018 media reports he says paint him as a criminal who broke the moral and legal rules of engagement during his military deployments.
Australia’s most decorated soldier is also pursuing the outlets over an allegation he assaulted a woman at a Canberra hotel.
An anonymous letter – part of a collection of documents released by the federal court on Friday – questions why the 42-year-old is ‘risking everything’ for the affair and tells the warrior to ‘save your marriage and family’.
‘Dear Ben, I can imagine what you were doing with another lady (other than Emma) at Suite 991 Hyatt Regency in Sydney for 3 nights from Sunday 19 November to Wednesday 22 November,’ the letter, which was sent to Roberts-Smith’s family home that he shared with his then-wife and two young kids, reads.
‘People saw you there. It’s on your credit card and phone records.
‘Why are you risking everything that you have built in your life – your wife/marriage, your daughters/family, your career, our reputation?’
An anonymous letter released by the federal court addressed to Roberts-Smith questions why the 42-year-old is ‘risking everything’ for an affair with another woman
Ben Roberts-Smith (pictured with his new girlfriend Sarah Matulin earlier this year) was sent a letter by a ‘friend at 7’ urging him to end his affair
The anonymous author, who claims to be a friend at Channel 7, asks Roberts-Smith to reconsider the affair to protect his family and his image.
‘You need to stop and maintain your high standards and reignite your love/marriage with Emma. It’s not too late … yet.
‘Try more marriage counselling. Save your marriage and your family please.
‘A friend at 7.’
Also released on Friday by the federal court were a series of texts between the Victoria Cross recipient and his mistress, referred to in court as Person 17.
Roberts-Smith is accused of assaulting the woman at an event in Parliament House in Canberra, something he denies.
Asked in court if he punched the woman in the temple causing her to stagger and fall onto a bed in a Canberra hotel room in March 2018, Mr Roberts-Smith said: ‘I’ve never struck any woman and I certainly didn’t strike Person 17’.
‘This a complete fabrication,’ he told the court.
He also denied photographing Person 17 while naked and asleep and later showing her the photos with the intention of having a ‘hold over her’.
Text messages released by the federal court between the 42-year-old former soldier and his mistress reveal their conversation immediately following the alleged assault
Text messages between the 42-year-old former soldier and his mistress released by the federal court reveal their conversation on the night of the alleged assault.
The pair are speaking about her injuries and whether Person 17’s husband suspects they had been together.
‘I feel awful. I made a doctor’s appointment for this afternoon after speaking to (Person 17’s husband) and sent him a photo,’ the woman writes.
Roberts-Smith asks his mistress: ‘Does he think I did it?’ before she confirms, saying her husband is also skeptical of her explanation of falling down stairs.
‘Yeah, he did to begin with and he didn’t believe I had fallen down stairs. I just told him what we talked about,’ she replied.
‘I’ve got some other bruises including a massive one on my thigh on the same side of my body which will hopefully make the falling story more believable.
‘I think having my period will also work in my favour in terms of convincing him I wasn’t with you.’
The war hero replies: ‘OK well hopefully he believes you.’
A week later the pair speak via text message again, with Person 17 telling Roberts-Smith not to attempt ‘intimidation or payback’ and says she has plans ‘in the event anything should happen to me or my family’.
‘You have been holding this over me since last year… what you have done, this is outright blackmail,’ Roberts-Smith messages his lover.
‘No. It most certainly is not blackmail. I’m not asking for anything from you,’ she replies.
‘Please don’t waste your time with intimidation or payback either.
‘The benefit of seeing what you were capable of a few weeks back and knowing the threats you’ve made to me since is that I immediately put in place ‘insurance’ in the event anything should happen to me or my family.’
His mistress encourages him to attempt to rebuild his marriage, saying his marriage ‘is strong and you love each other’.
Roberts-Smith’s ex-wife, Emma Roberts, and Person 17 are both set to testify against him.
The ‘friend’ at Channel 7 asks Roberts-Smith to reconsider the affair to protect his family and his image
The war hero, who completed six tours of Afghanistan between 2006 and 2012, denies all claims. His accusers maintain they are true
The war hero, who completed six tours of Afghanistan between 2006 and 2012, denies all claims. His accusers maintain they are true.
On Tuesday, the landmark trial was adjourned in its fourth week for at least a month after Sydney’s COVID-19 outbreak prevented the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Canberra Times opening their defence.
It nonetheless gives Mr Roberts-Smith time to gather his forces after a lengthy stint in the witness box laying out his case against the papers.
Bruce McClintock SC opened by painting the Victoria Cross winner as a courageous, highly organised and disciplined leader who risked his life in battle under the SAS motto ‘Who Dares Wins’.
In what is expected to be the veteran barrister’s final trial, Mr McClintock described the 2010 Battle of Tizak, where Mr Roberts-Smith earned his VC, as a ‘high water mark’ for the SAS and his client’s devotion to duty and self-sacrifice.
He also alleged the defamatory articles were the result of a lying campaign against Mr Roberts-Smith by soldiers jealous of his stellar career and achievements.
Mr McClintock submitted his client lost hundreds of thousands of dollars after his reputation was smashed by the media reports and his speaking business ‘evaporated’.
When he took the stand himself as first witness, Mr Roberts-Smith told the court the VC made him a tall poppy within the SAS and served to broaden attacks on him from envious associates out of ‘pure spite’.
‘It put a target on my back,’ he told the court.
A week later the pair speak via text message again, with Person 17 telling Roberts-Smith not to attempt ‘intimidation or payback’, the court documents read
The two-metre tall former corporal said the media reports left him devastated.
He also stridently defended his actions at several key engagements in Afghanistan that are the subject of the serious misconduct claims against him.
Mr Roberts-Smith told the trial of an April 2009 SAS mission in Uruzgan where he says two insurgents were killed near a compound known as Whiskey 108.
The respondents allege what in fact occurred was that two unarmed Afghans – one a man with a prosthetic leg – were brought out of a tunnel and taken prisoner.
The outlets claim an SAS soldier, codenamed Person Four, shot the older Afghan in the head with a silenced firearm on the orders of another SAS operator, codenamed Person Five.
They allege Mr Roberts-Smith carried the Afghan with the fake leg out of the compound and shot him with an extended burst of machine gun fire.
Mr Roberts-Smith vehemently denied the claim.
‘There were no men in the tunnel,’ he said under oath.
The two-metre tall former corporal lost hundreds of thousands of dollars after his reputation was smashed by the media reports, his trial heard
Another engagement where versions are diametrically opposed centres on an SAS mission in the village of Darwan, also in Uruzgan province, on September 11, 2012.
On Mr Roberts-Smith’s version, he moved up an embankment with another soldier, person 11, and engaged an insurgent ‘spotter’ in a cornfield.
Mr Roberts-Smith maintains he fired at the insurgent who was moving around in the field and later found a radio, known as an ICOM, near the fighter’s body.
But that scenario was queried by the respondents’ barrister, Nicholas Owens SC, who suggested in cross-examination the man was handcuffed, kicked off a cliff, dragged across a creek bed into the cornfield and shot.
‘That is completely false,’ Mr Roberts-Smith told the court.
The trial has also been told of alleged assaults on Afghans, accusations Mr Roberts-Smith bullied another trooper and the practice of soldiers at the SAS pub in Afghanistan known as the ‘Fat Lady’s Arms’ drinking from the prosthetic leg of the man killed at Whiskey 108.
Mr Roberts-Smith denies ever drinking from the leg but concedes possessing two engraved glass replicas of the leg given to members of his squadron.
Australia’s most acclaimed living soldier has also denied, after his exit from the SAS, writing threatening letters to another SAS veteran, burying USBs with secret material in his backyard or dousing his laptop with petrol and burning it out of panic.
‘When I’m getting rid of a laptop that’s what I do’, he told the court.
Once the trial resumes, it is expected to hear evidence from 21 current and former SAS members, and several Afghan villagers.
It has already heard from former Liberal MP Brendan Nelson – a reputation witness for the applicant – who described Mr Roberts-Smith as the most respected, admired and revered soldier Australian soldier in half a century, since Vietnam veteran Keith Payne VC.
Other notable witnesses set to testify include federal Liberal MP Andrew Hastie and Mr Roberts-Smith’s ex-wife Emma Roberts.
The matter is next listed for mention on July 19 before Justice Anthony Besanko.