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Soldier denies any Roberts-Smith vendetta

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An SAS member who blew the whistle about Ben Roberts-Smith’s alleged war crimes in Afghanistan has been accused of trying to “character assassinate” the decorated veteran by speaking out to the media.

The warrant officer class two, codenamed Person Seven, is spending his fourth day in the witness box at the civil trial brought by Mr Roberts-Smith against three newspapers that he says defamed him in reports of alleged war crimes and murders in Afghanistan between 2006 and 2012.

The 43-year-old denies all the accusations.

Person Seven on Monday denied claims put to him by Mr Roberts-Smith’s counsel, Arthur Moses SC, that he attempted to “character assassinate” the war hero by falsely alleging he assaulted unarmed Afghans.

The court heard Person Seven was the source of an article which claimed Mr Roberts-Smith kneed an Afghan “in the guts” and “smashed” him in the cheek.

Quizzed over the incident, Person Seven said it was what he saw, heard, and said, and rejected the barrister’s assertion he divulged it to portray himself as a hero.

“Mr Moses, I’m completely unknown … No one has a clue who I am,” he said.

Earlier, asked whether he became “filled with anger and frustration” on a 2011 military speaking tour he and Mr Roberts-Smith participated in about the battle of Tizak, the witness said “not at all”.

“I’ve got on with my life,” he said.

The court heard both Person Seven and Mr Roberts-Smith fought in the 2010 battle, with Person Seven declining to take the initiative to neutralise machine guns because he was “trying to stay alive”.

The witness rejected the assertion he had become “consumed by the thought” he chose not to assault the machine guns.

“I do not regret anything at the battle of Tizak … my personal performance,” he said.

He conceded not being brave enough to attack the machines guns, but denied the barrister’s claims this had caused him to resent the war hero.

“Not at all,” he said.

The trial has previously been told that a basis on which Mr Roberts-Smith was awarded his VC was storming machine gun positions at Tizak.

In his evidence, Person Seven has said he watched the war hero attack an unarmed Afghan prisoner, bully a comrade and threaten to strangle a man.

He has also testified that a soldier, dubbed Person Four, told him Mr Roberts-Smith kicked an unarmed Afghan prisoner off a cliff in Darwan in 2012.

He has denied being entrenched with a group of soldiers against Mr Roberts-Smith, or “dumping on” him in interviews with journalists.

The SAS member was one of two anonymous sources who appeared on the Nine Network’s 60 Minutes program in 2019 in breach of Australian Defence policy, the trial has been told.

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