Australia’s most decorated war hero has been forced to slam “malicious” allegations made against him, including claims of war crimes and even violence against women.
Ben Roberts-Smith, 39, who was previously awarded the Victoria Cross in 2010, broke his silence to categorically deny the series of shock claims in an exclusive interview with The Australian.
Referring to one story published previously, he insisted it “contains a catalogue of lies, fabrications and misrepresentations”.
He added: “It is the culmination of many months of malicious and highly damaging allegations, all of which will be vigorously defended.”
One of the allegations included a claim he had a domestic violence complaint made against him in 2016, as well as claims of misconduct on the battle field – all of which he denied.
Roberts-Smith insisted the claims were false and damaging, adding: “I do want to say today that I unequivocally deny any physical abuse of any woman at any time ever, and that I have not at any stage been interviewed by police about any purported complaint by any woman.”
He has now reportedly lodged a defamation lawsuit against Fairfax Media in the Federal Court, claiming he’d fallen victim to a smear campaign which is threatening to ruin his reputation.
Roberts-Smith was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions during a helicopter assault into Tizak in June 2010, while serving with the Special Air Service Regiment in Afghanistan.
He also received the Medal of Gallantry during a tour of Afghanistan in 2006 – making him the country’s most decorated soldier.
The soldier was later awarded a Commendation for Distinguished Service for his leadership as a patrol commander during a 2012 tour of Afghanistan.
It comes after a book by journalist Chris Masters came under heavy fire last year for its coverage of an incident in Chora Valley in 2006. Titled No Front Line, the book contradicts previous accounts given of the incident.
Roberts-Smith described it as inaccurate at the time, and added in a separate interview with the publication: “I have been under public scrutiny. You can access everything about my career, on the record. I’ve been under the microscope for the last six years and, you know what, my record is spotless. And I have given 100 per cent.”