Decorated soldier wants AFP to probe leaks


Victoria Cross recipient Ben Roberts-Smith wants the Australian Federal Police to investigate fellow special forces soldiers who may have leaked evidence from a defence inquiry relating to his conduct in Afghanistan.

Lawyers acting for Corporal Roberts-Smith on Sunday wrote to federal Attorney-General Christian Porter asking him to refer a series of Fairfax Media articles to the AFP “for a criminal investigation and, where applicable, prosecution”.

The now-retired soldier argues the news articles prove that former or serving members of the armed forces have leaked information to journalists in contravention of various commonwealth laws.

The Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force is inquiring into issues relating to Australian forces, including Corporal Roberts-Smith, in Afghanistan.

“Fairfax journalists have procured or received information from SASR (special forces) members about evidence given by them to the inquiry and then published that information,” Sunday’s letter to Mr Porter states.

Corporal Roberts-Smith was separately the subject of a complaint made to police in Canberra earlier this year, Fairfax Media reported late last week.

“I look forward to in due course responding to the baseless allegations made against me,” Corporal Roberts-Smith said in a statement on Sunday.

“When I do so, I will respond in a manner which is consistent with my obligations to uphold the laws of the commonwealth.”

Corporal Roberts-Smith on Friday lost a court bid to prevent Fairfax from publishing allegations against him.

He reiterated on Sunday that he plans to launch defamation proceedings against Fairfax Media.

The attorney-general says he’ll consider the ex-soldier’s correspondence “over the next several days”.

But Mr Porter also noted that “anyone who believes a breach of commonwealth law has occurred can report such matters directly to relevant authorities.”

Corporal Roberts-Smith argues people who have leaked to Fairfax could have breached the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force Regulation, the Defence Force Act, the Crimes Act and the Criminal Code Act.

He also argues that Fairfax and its journalists could have breached the laws by procuring and then publishing the leaked evidence.

Comment has been sought from Fairfax Media.

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