Seven, Stokes to produce emails and pay for lost appeal
Seven Network and Kerry Stokes' private investment vehicle have been ordered to produce emails. Photo: AAP
Emails and documents on a failed defamation action by former soldier Ben Roberts-Smith have been ordered from Seven and its chairman Kerry Stokes’ private investment vehicle, who will also pay for a losing bid to have subpoenas dropped.
Roberts-Smith sued Nine newspapers The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age as well as the Canberra Times over reports that a judge ruled in June painted a “substantially true” image of him as a war criminal involved in four murders while serving in Afghanistan.
He has not been criminally charged and is appealing the judgment that dismissed his defamation action, first launched in 2018.
His former employer Seven Network and its chairman Kerry Stokes’ private investment vehicle Australian Capital Equity partially funded the defamation case against newspapers published by Fairfax, now owned by the Nine Network.
The court took more than 100 days to hear the case.
Nine sought the documents to bolster its bid to have Seven and ACE pay for the mammoth legal bill of the long-running court case, estimated to exceed $25 million.
The parties appealed against subpoenas they argued were too broad and would capture subjects only tangentially related to proceedings before a full Federal Court hearing last week.
Nine’s barrister Nicholas Owens SC said the entire relationship between ACE, Seven and Roberts-Smith needed examining and even only “glancing” references to the case would still inform their case.
Seven and ACE’s appeal against the subpoenas was dismissed and they will have to pay Nine’s costs for the appeal, Justice Ian Jackman announced on Thursday.
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