Fri. Nov 18th, 2022

Australias most decorated living soldier Ben Roberts-Smith has confirmed his own conduct is being investigated in a bombshell report to be released next week.The SAS hero, who was awarded the Victoria Cross in 2011 for bravery under fire during his fifth tour of Afghanistan, has strongly denied any wrongdoing.
In a statement, Mr Roberts-Smith said he welcomed the appointment of a special investigator to test the claims.
“I welcome the announcement today by the Prime Minister and the Minister for Defence which has for the first time accurately clarified that it was no part of the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force’s (IGADF) remit to make any findings of fact in relation to rumours concerning special forces soldiers,” he said.
“It is heartening to hear that these matters, which have been the subject of rumours for years, will now be examined by a Special Investigator’s Office with expertise and experience to consider evidence not rumours and make decisions based on evidence rather than on unsubstantiated rumours.
“It is regrettable that the IGADF Inquiry took such an extraordinarily long time to be finalised. While I appreciate the complexity of the task ahead for the Special Investigator, I am hopeful that this next phase will be completed as expeditiously as possible so that all the
current and former special forces soldiers who have been deeply impacted by the Inquiry process can move on with their lives.”
The 42-year-old former soldier, who left the Army as a Corporal in 2013, is involved in a long-running defamation case involving Fairfax and the Nine network.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to correct the false claims repeatedly made in the Nine press that the IGADF Inquiry referred any matter about me to the AFP for investigation,” he said.
“That is untrue. As the Federal Court heard on 8 October 2020 in my defamation proceedings against Nine, the AFP investigations were commenced in May 2018 following a referral from a member of the Melbourne media.”
RELATED: ‘Very serious’: Explosive army report drops
RELATED: Confidential documents to be handed over in Ben Roberts-Smith case
Earlier on Thursday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison revealed a special investigator will be appointed to consider allegations of war crimes by Australia’s soldiers in the Middle East following the completion of a long-running defence investigation into the claims. The conduct of more than 30 individuals will be investigated in the report.
The final report from IGADF will be released next week, after a four-year inquiry examining the conduct of the special forces in Afghanistan between 2005 and 2016.
“This is going to be very difficult for Australians. It is going to be very difficult for our serving community and our veterans community,’’ Mr Morrison said.
“It is going to be difficult for all of us. But what we are seeking to do, as a government, I think what we have to do as a country, is to absorb this in a way that enables us to uphold the integrity of our justice system and uphold the integrity of our defence forces. We rely vitally on both of these institutions, absolutely vitally.
“Given the likely allegations of serious and possibly criminal misconduct, the matters raised in the inquiry must be assessed, investigated and where allegations are substantiated, prosecuted in court. To undertake this role, the government is establishing the Office of the Special Investigator.”
Defence Minister Linda Reynolds confirmed the scandal could involve stripping soldiers of medals if misconduct is proven and they are ultimately convicted of crimes.
She said the Chief of the Defence Force General Angus Campbell is “considering all of those options”.