TOP leadership of the Australian Defence Force could come under police investigation for possible breaches of Commonwealth law.
Australia’s most decorated soldier, Ben Roberts-Smith, has urged Attorney-General Christian Porter to refer to the Australian Federal Police “unfair and baseless” articles published to malign his war service because they disclose possible breaches of Commonwealth law.
Sources told The West Australian they believe there is no question that senior officers in the Army have been behind providing false and malicious information that has formed the basis of the attack on Mr Roberts-Smith by Fairfax Media.
Some military observers believe that incompetent leadership has led to the attack on Mr Roberts-Smith and that people who serve their country deserve better from the top command.
There is widespread dismay in the armed forces that Defence Force Chief Angus Campbell has not come out in support of the Special Air Service Regiment.
Mr Roberts-Smith has received the Victoria Cross, the Commonwealth’s highest bravery honour, and the Medal for Gallantry, both for his service in Afghanistan while serving with the elite SASR.
His request for an AFP probe comes after his failed Federal Court bid on Friday to win an injunction against Fairfax Media to prevent publication of detailed “false” allegations concerning his behaviour.
Lawyers for Mr Roberts-Smith argued there had been a breach of confidentiality against Federal law concerning an inquiry being conducted by the Inspector-General of the ADF.
Fairfax has reported that Mr Roberts-Smith has been accused of bullying, abuse of Afghan detainees and assaulting an SASR trooper following a friendly-fire incident.
Reports on Friday claimed that he had been the subject of a domestic violence complaint after a function at Parliament House in Canberra on March 28, 2016 — “malicious” allegations that Mr Roberts-Smith has “unequivocally” denied.
Mr Roberts-Smith, who now works for Channel 7 in Queensland, has written to Mr Porter asking that “as the first law officer” he refer the matter to the AFP for criminal investigation.
“I’m just a former soldier,” he said yesterday. “I gave nearly 20 years of my life serving this country.
“I’ve done nothing but followed orders and done the best for my country.
“I just want a fair go. Why can’t I expect that?
“I’ve always respected the leaders of the military and this country. And I will respect the process of this inquiry even, though, by their own admission, it’s largely based on anonymous rumours.
“How is it that I find myself in this position. Where is the support for our Diggers.
“I’m bewildered by what seems to be blatant breaches of the law.”
The 39-year-old former SAS soldier from WA called on those making and publishing the allegations to stop and allow the inquiry to complete its work.
“I commenced the proceedings because I am concerned that Commonwealth laws have been breached by the disclosure to Fairfax Media of confidential information of the Commonwealth, and also the confidential evidence given to the inquiry being conducted by the Assistant Inspector-General of the ADF and about the SASR’s operational activities in Afghanistan,” Mr Roberts-Smith said.
“The current position is unfair not only to me, but all members of the ADF, whose service to our county is being attacked by individuals who choose to hide behind anonymous leaking to the media of operation matters in breach of the Defence Act.
“These people know I cannot respond in detail to their assertions without compromising national security, and myself breaching the Defence Act.
“I look forward to in due course responding to the baseless allegations made against me.”
A spokesman for Mr Porter said he would consider the correspondence from Mr Roberts-Smith’s lawyers.
However, the spokesman noted that anyone who believed a breach of Commonwealth law had occurred could report the matter directly to the relevant authorities.