Docs handed over in Ben Roberts-Smith case
The Australian Federal Police has handed over documents in the high-profile defamation case brought by former soldier Ben Roberts-Smith against Nine newspapers.
The Victoria Cross recipient is suing The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Canberra Times over reports alleging he committed war crimes during his deployment in Afghanistan and assaulted a woman in Canberra.
Mr Roberts-Smith strongly denies the allegations. The newspapers will vigorously defend its reporting at an eight-week trial due to start on June 7.
The Federal Court heard on Wednesday morning that the Nine newspapers have sought “copies of handwritten notes or envelopes” provided to the AFP by John McLeod in connection with an investigation into Mr Roberts-Smith.
The newspapers are also seeking a letter or envelope concerning a witness in the proceedings known as Person 18.
The AFP has since provided some documents to court, but advised Nine’s lawyers it would make a public interest immunity (PII) claim over others on the basis they relate to an ongoing criminal investigation.
A PII claim allows the government to argue it is in the public interest for certain documents to not to be released.
The newspapers have also sought phone records from Mr Roberts-Smith, with Telstra and Optus each providing documents to the court.
His lawyer Matthew Richardson asked for early access to one document in order to ascertain if it contained phone numbers relating to Mr Roberts-Smith’s employment at Channel 7 or “other personal matters”.
Registrar Meredith Cridland said he could have them until Friday afternoon, at which point Nine would gain access.
Mr Roberts-Smith has taken leave from his role at the network while the defamation case plays out.
The matter is next in court on May 21.
Originally published as Docs handed over in Ben Roberts-Smith case