Billionaire who funded Ben Roberts-Smith’s lawsuit against Nine had NO IDEA he was sunbathing in Bali – after backing a $30 million case
- Fallen war hero is sunbathing in Bali, according to a damning verdict
- The boss who financed a court proceeding didn’t know he was going to skip judgment
Disgraced war hero Ben Roberts-Smith sneaked off to sun himself into budgerigar smugglers in Bali without telling the billionaire who funded his lawsuit.
The SAS veteran skipped Judgment Day at the Federal Court and missed hearing Judge Anthony Besanko on Thursday in his defamation case against Nine Newspapers.
The civil court ruled that Roberts-Smith was responsible for the murder of four unarmed Afghan men, was a “tough and inhumane” war criminal and bullied his own men.
But the country’s most decorated living soldier wasn’t there to hear it.
He was 2,500 miles away, basking in bathers on a poolside lounger at a $500-a-night luxury resort in Indonesia when the judge’s damning verdict was revealed.
And media magnate Kerry Stokes – who funded the legal action – reportedly had no idea.
SAS veteran Ben Roberts-Smith was lying 4,000 miles away basking in swimmers on a lounger by the pool at a $500-a-night luxury resort in Indonesia when the verdict was revealed
The court ruled that Ben Roberts-Smith (pictured with partner Sarah Matulin) was responsible for the murder of four unarmed Afghan men, was a “hard-hearted and inhumane” war criminal and bullied his own men
The billionaire Seven’s boss employs Roberts-Smith as a network executive and was convinced of the ex-soldier’s innocence, prompting him to fund the fight.
The court case – which lasted 110 days over four years – was the longest in Australian legal history and is considered the most expensive in the country.
Experts say the final bill for Roberts-Smith’s legal team is already $30 million, not including the cost of a potential appeal or paying the costs to Nine Newspapers.
But Mr Stokes, executive chairman of Seven West Media, was reportedly blindsided by Roberts-Smith’s absence from court on the final day to hear the judge’s ruling.
The AFR revealed that Mr Stokes was unaware that he would not be in court and had not funded the trip to Bali – and was keen for him to return soon to face the music.
Mr Stokes added that he ‘has not yet had a chance to speak to Ben but I will as soon as he has had a chance to absorb the verdict fully’.
Billionaire Seven boss Kerry Stokes now employs Roberts-Smith as network manager and was convinced of the ex-soldier’s innocence, prompting him to fund the fight
Mr Stokes said he was ‘disappointed’ with the ruling as it is ‘not in line with the man I know’.
“I know this will be extremely difficult for Ben, who has always maintained his innocence,” he said.
“That his fellow soldiers disagree with each other, this outcome will be the source of additional grief.”
Daily Mail Australia asked Seven if they regretted supporting Mr Roberts-Smith or if they would instead fund an appeal lodged by him, but the company declined to comment.
Channel Seven’s parent company, Seven Group Holdings, saw its share price fall nine cents within minutes of the verdict being announced, before recovering as markets closed.