Ben Roberts-Smith defamation: Soldier ordered to pay $910k to Nine in security

Former soldier Ben Roberts-Smith has been ordered to pay almost $1 million in security to cover Nine’s costs ahead of an appeal over his failed defamation lawsuit.

Earlier this year, Federal Court Justice Anthony Besanko ruled some of the imputations against Mr Roberts-Smith put forward across six articles by The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Canberra Times were substantially true and dismissed the case.

The newspapers had accused Mr Roberts-Smith of war crimes, with the case expecting to have cost more than $25m in legal fees.

Mr Roberts-Smith denies any wrongdoing and is appealing the decision, with his argument aimed at finding error in Justice Besanko’s factual findings.

The appeal will take place in front of a Full Court of the Federal Court from February 5 to 16.

The war veteran has been dealt another blow after Justice Nye Perram made orders he must provide $910,000 across three instalments at the request of Nine for security if he loses the appeal.

Mr Roberts-Smith agreed to the demand with the first payment of $300,000 paid on Friday.

The same amount is due before December 8, while the final tranche of $310,000 must be paid by January 29, 2024, just a week before the appeal is set to begin.

Justice Perram’s orders were made by consent and state the money be paid “by way of electronic payment into an interest-bearing account nominated by a Registrar of the Court”.

Following the landmark decision in June, parties have been in dispute over who will pay the costs of the mammoth proceedings.

The trial was funded at first by the Seven Network, which was Mr Roberts-Smith’s employer at the time, before a loan agreement was reached with Kerry Stokes’ private company ACE.

Nine is seeking a third-party costs order against Mr Roberts-Smith’s financial backers, which include Mr Stokes and ACE.

Subpoenas were issued to all parties by Nine Newspapers to show communications between the financial backers and the lawyers to show their involvement in the trial and if they controlled the litigation.

The subpoenas are being challenged by Mr Stokes, Seven and ACE.

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