Seven’s Ben Roberts-Smith takes leave of absence for defamation case

Seven West Media’s general manager, Seven Network Brisbane and Queensland, Ben Roberts-Smith, is stepping down from his duties for an indefinite amount of time to focus on an upcoming legal battle with Nine Entertainment Co.

The decorated former soldier and Victoria Cross recipient is suing The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald for defamation.

An email to staff today from Seven West Media managing director and CEO James Warburton stated that Roberts-Smith would step down immediately while he prepares for the court case, which is set to begin on 7 June.

Warburton at the network’s upfronts in late 2020

“Ben and I believe this mutual decision is best for both him and our company. We expect Ben to return to his role upon the completion of his defamation proceedings. As the trial is currently set down for eight weeks, it’s likely this won’t be until after August,” Warburton wrote.

While Roberts-Smith is on leave, Seven Queensland staff will report to  Seven Queensland sales director, Greg Gable, while Seven Brisbane managers will report to their respective department heads in Sydney. Local production will report to Troy Smith, head of technical services.

Roberts-Smith was appointed Seven Network deputy general manager for regional Queensland in 2015 and was later that year promoted to general manager. 2016 saw a restructure of operations within Seven West Media and his responsibilities were expanded to include the metropolitan market.

According to his bio on the Seven West Media website, Roberts-Smith  holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Queensland and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.


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