Will Ben Roberts-Smith Stay On as GM of Seven Queensland?

Ben Roberts-Smith
Image: Seven Network

Ben Roberts-Smith has spectacularly lost his defamation case against a number of publications and journalists, with the Federal Court finding it was “substantially true” to say he had committed murders in Afghanistan while serving as an SAS soldier, broke the moral and legal rules of military engagement and is therefore a criminal, and disgraced his country, among other things.

The former soldier was working as general manager of the Seven Network in Queensland when he launched the defamation action against The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Canberra Times and journalists Nick McKenzie and Chris Masters in 2019.

Yesterday, however, Federal Court judge Anthony Besanko dismissed Roberts-Smith’s claims that he had been defamed in the six articles, with the man formerly known as a “war hero”, now labelled a murderer, war criminal and a bully.

What Was Ben Roberts-Smith Doing at Seven Queensland?

Roberts-Smith joined the television network and media company in 2012 and was involved in numerous news and public affairs production projects.

He then took on a full-time corporate role and was deputy general manager until the retirement of Neil Mooney, at which time he was promoted to general manager.

At the time of Roberts-Smith’s promotion, then CEO of Seven West Media, Tim Worner, said: “We are delighted to announce this appointment. Ben has been a part of the Seven Network for a number of years and has impressed us greatly with his management and leadership skills.”

The retiring Mooney said: “Ben will be an excellent leader. He is an outstanding person. When it comes to leadership, he ticks all the right boxes.”

Is Ben Roberts-Smith Still Working at Seven Queensland?

In 2021, Roberts-Smith stepped down from his management role at Seven Queensland tp focus on the looming legal battle.

Current Seven West Media managing director and CEO, James Warburton, said in an email to staff that both parties believed it was the best course of action.

“Ben and I believe this mutual decision is best for both him and our company. We expect Ben to return to his role upon the completion of his defamation proceedings. As the trial is currently set down for eight weeks, it’s likely this won’t be until after August,” Warburton wrote.

Will Kerry Stokes Continue to Employ Ben Roberts-Smith at Seven Queensland?

In light of this week’s ruling, questions have been raised about whether the chairman of Seven Network, mining billionaire Kerry Stokes, will continue to back Roberts-Smith.

In November last year, Stokes hit out at “scumbag journalists” reporting on Roberts-Smith.

And now, the billionaire has said the court’s ruling did not “accord with the man I know”, according to the Australian Associated Press. He noted Roberts-Smith had always maintained his innocence and said the two would speak later.

In a statement to Variety Australia, a Seven spokesperson said: “Ben is on leave. In light of yesterday’s judgement, we will discuss his future with the company.”