Roberts-Smith trial evidence delayed

·2-min read

Australian war hero Ben Roberts-Smith's high-profile defamation trial has been delayed while the Federal Court addressed issues relating to a a case he's taken against his former wife.

The trial was expected to reopen to the public on Wednesday and hear evidence from the Victoria Cross winner.

But it was adjourned until Thursday following a case management hearing in the proceedings against Emma Roberts, seeking to provide material for the defamation case that Mr Roberts-Smith says came from his emails.

That hearing was told that Justice Robert Bromwich had become aware of media reports of "rumour and innuendo" surrounding Mr Roberts-Smith and whether he was in a personal relationship with a female lawyer, not named in court, linked to the deposition of an affidavit.

Later on Wednesday, Mr Roberts-Smith's barrister, Arthur Moses, told the court no relationship existed between Mr Roberts-Smith and the solicitor.

"The applicant and the deponent are not in a relationship full stop," Mr Moses said.

In the Federal Court trial that opened on Monday, Mr Roberts-Smith is suing the publishers of the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Canberra Times over articles from 2018 accusing him of war crimes in Afghanistan.

Mr Roberts-Smith is also suing over a claim he assaulted a woman in a Canberra hotel room.

The former special forces corporal, 42, denies all the claims against him, while the publishers have advanced a defence of truth.

The trial has so far heard that Mr Roberts-Smith was a courageous and self-sacrificial soldier subject to a campaign of lies by "bitter people" envious of his success as a soldier.

It has also heard that the war hero lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in income after the allegedly defamatory articles were published that "smashed and destroyed" his reputation.

The SAS veteran is seeking aggravated damages from the respondents in a bid to restore his reputation as the nation's most highly respected soldier, the court has also heard.

Much of Tuesday's proceedings took place in closed court as they involved issues of national security.

Mr Roberts-Smith's barrister, Bruce McClintock SC, who has spent much of the trial's first two days on his opening address, has previously said he will call his client as the first witness.

Mr McClintock has previously flagged in court that some of Mr Roberts-Smith's testimony will be given in open session while other parts will likely have to be given behind closed doors.

The trial will last up to 10 weeks and is set to hear from around 60 witnesses.

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