Danielle Scott – described as a ‘very close’ confidant of Ben Roberts-Smith’s ex-wife – will be a surprise witness at his defamation ‘trial of the century’
Ben Roberts-Smith once fought terrorists on the battlefields of Afghanistan but the war to save his reputation will involve a very different cast of characters.
A mysterious nanny is shaping up to be a surprise witness in the former SAS trooper’s defamation ‘trial of the century’ against Nine’s newspapers.
Daily Mail Australia can reveal Danielle Scott, a confidant of his ex-wife Emma, is expected to give evidence for Nine at the Federal Court next month.
Ms Scott, from Cairns, has a varied resume including running a Balinese babysitting business and working for a local energy company.
But she has also been implicated in Mr Roberts-Smith’s high-stakes defamation action against the national media empire.
The soldier’s lawyers claim that Ms Scott or Ms Roberts may have leaked claims that he buried secret USB sticks in his backyard to Nine’s newspapers and documentary program 60 Minutes.
Ben Roberts-Smith’s ex-wife Emma has ‘flipped’ and will give evidence for Nine newspapers at the former Special Air Service corporal’s defamation ‘trial of the century’ next month
Mr Roberts-Smith, recipient of the country’s highest honour, the Victoria Cross, is suing The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and Canberra Times newspapers. He said the news outlets wrongly sullied his name by printing allegations he committed war crimes, among them a claim he kicked an Afghan man off a small cliff.
The newspapers are defending the defamation claim with a truth defence.
Mr Roberts-Smith is suing Nine newspapers for defamation over articles accusing him of committing war crimes in Afghanistan. Above, in camo gear
On April 29, Mr Roberts-Smith’s lawyer Bruce McClintock SC appeared to suggest in court that Ms Scott could have played a role as a middleman between his ex-wife – now known as Emma Roberts – and reporters.
‘There was a whole series of allegations about buried lunchboxes and similar rubbish on 60 Minutes,’ Mr McClintock said.
‘They obviously clearly came up from Ms Roberts …. It clearly came from Ms Roberts, or via Ms Roberts or Ms Scott.’
The court heard Ms Roberts is bound by a confidentiality agreement relating to her split with her ex-husband.
Mr Roberts-Smith has threatened to sue his ex-wife should she breach it and has also warned that he could undo a property settlement the pair struck.
During the hearing, Nicholas Owens SC for Nine told the court that Ms Scott had a ‘very close’ relationship with Ms Roberts, according to an outline of evidence.
‘Ms Scott has indicated a very great deal about matters that Ms Roberts has observed and told her and so on over the years,’ said Mr Owens.
The lawyer said Nine anticipate calling evidence from Ms Roberts and Ms Scott about three alleged matters: Mr Roberts-Smith’s attempts to intimidate witnesses against giving truthful evidence, his attempts to communicate covertly with witnesses and concealing material from the court.
Other witnesses for Nine include four Afghan villagers, who will give evidence via video link from Kabul, and former soldiers.
Mr Roberts-Smith this year debuted his new girlfriend Sarah Matulin – who quit her job at Channel Seven when their relationship became serious
Mr Roberts-Smith left the army in 2013 and began studying business at the University of Queensland before joining Seven and meeting his new
Mr Roberts-Smith has taken leave from Channel Seven amid his upcoming legal battle with rival Nine
Ms Roberts and Ms Scott’s evidence is set to centre around issues including Mr Roberts-Smith allegedly intimidating witnesses
Mr Roberts-Smith is the son of former judge Len Roberts-Smith and his wife Sue and is originally from Western Australia.
Ben and his brother Sam attended the city’s prestigious Hale School. Ben joined the Australian Army at 18. His brother is a well-known opera singer.
Mr Roberts-Smith was deployed to East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan – the latter six times – and was awarded the Medal of Gallantry and later the Victoria Cross.
After resigning his military commission in 2013, Mr Roberts-Smith studied a business degree at the University of Queensland.
Two years later, he was appointed the general manager of Channel Seven’s Queensland division.
However, fame has come with a price – intense scrutiny in the press over his activities in Afghanistan.
His legal action against Nine is being backed by the Seven’s billionaire proprietor Kerry Stokes. Audio leaked to 60 Minutes captured Mr Roberts-Smith saying that if Mr Stokes didn’t pay for the case: ”I’d be f***ed without him.’
Mr Roberts-Smith debuted his new girlfriend Sarah Matulin earlier this year. Ms Matulin worked in marketing at Seven but resigned when their relationship got serious.
A brief hearing will be held for Mr Roberts-Smith’s defamation case next week ahead of the trial beginning in June. It is expected to run for about eight weeks.
Mr Roberts-Smith is said to be ‘anxious’ to testify. He will call former Governor-General Quentin Bryce, who pinned his VC to his chest, and ex-War Memorial director Brendan Nelson as ‘reputation witnesses’.
Mr Roberts-Smith has stepped aside from his executive position to prepare for the case.