Former Special Forces soldier Ben Roberts-Smith has lost a legal offer to have his ex-wife cross-examined regarding access to his emails, with a judge describing his claim against her as “unfounded” and ordering him to pay her costs.
Roberts-Smith is suing Aging, Sydney Morning Herald and Canberra Times for slander over articles that he says wrongly portray him as a murderer and war criminal. Last year, he also took action against his ex-wife, Emma Roberts, to find out if she provided confidential information to newspaper lawyers.
In response to this case, Mrs. Roberts was ordered to present certain documents to the court and explain how she obtained them, while the newspapers and their lawyers in the defamation case were sued for all documents that Mrs. Roberts had given them.
Ms Roberts complied with the orders and no documents emerged from the subpoenas.
When Mr. Roberts-Smith was dissatisfied with his ex-wife’s statement, he filed a further application to have her cross-examined and to extend his action to include Mrs. Roberts’ best friend, Danielle Scott, and Mrs. Scott’s husband, who he claimed had also access to his emails.
On Friday, federal court Robert Bromwich rejected those applications, saying there were insufficient grounds for not taking Ms. Roberts’ word.
The material on which Mr Roberts-Smith has relied “goes beyond mere possibilities and suspicions,” Judge Bromwich said in his judgment, “with many such allegations in relation to Mrs Roberts, which were shown to be ill-founded in relation to her, and just as ill-founded in relation to Mrs. Scott ”.
As for the case against Ms Scott’s husband, “threads of material relied upon … do not even rise to the level of a mere unreasonable case,” the judge said.