Best form of de­fence

The Saturday Paper - - Diary -

An­other case of mount­ing fas­ci­na­tion is also in the Fed­eral Court, where Ben Roberts-Smith is fac­ing off against the Fair­fax press and three jour­nal­ists over ar­ti­cles in mid 2018 that al­leged mis­con­duct, bul­ly­ing and in­tim­i­da­tion by the dec­o­rated sol­dier while he was serv­ing in Afghanistan. The me­dia or­gan­i­sa­tion also al­leged he was in­volved in an in­ci­dent of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence.

Roberts-Smith is one of a num­ber of sol­diers be­ing in­ves­ti­gated for their ac­tions in Afghanistan by the in­spec­tor­gen­eral of the Aus­tralian De­fence Force.

Nor­mally, the defama­tion busi­ness would be enough for me­dia or­gan­i­sa­tions to link arms in com­mon cause against at­tacks on their jour­nal­ism, jour­nal­ists and bank ac­counts. But not The Catholic Boys Daily, which hoots with glee when Fair­fax is dragged into court to de­fend its re­port­ing. The most re­cent in­stance was a front-page ar­ti­cle in The Week­end Aus­tralian, which made the over­wrought claim un­der the head­line: “War widow to Roberts-Smith’s res­cue as Fair­fax cries mur­der”.

Ms Leigh Locke-Thomas, the widow of a sergeant from the Spe­cial Air Ser­vice Reg­i­ment, says it was ac­tu­ally her

hus­band who was in­volved in a fra­cas at the Ocean Beach Ho­tel in Cottes­loe and not Roberts-Smith as claimed by Fair­fax in its de­fence plead­ings.

With dev­as­ta­tions like that, Fair­fax may as well just run up the white flag.

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