Who is the new woman in Ben Roberts-Smith’s life
On Australia Day in 2015, controversial war hero Ben Roberts-Smith gave a speech about his lifelong ambition to join the military.
"Leave school, join the Army, and fight for my country. It was an uncomplicated, old-fashioned dream in lots of ways,'' he said.
Five years on, that uncomplicated dream has become a complicated nightmare.
Mr Roberts-Smith, 41, Australia's most decorated living soldier, now finds himself embroiled in multiple investigations and legal disputes.
His marriage to Emma, the mother of his twin daughters, has imploded, and he is spending personal time with his lawyer, Monica Allen, who has been visiting him in his new apartment in Brisbane.
Ms Allen is part of the Sydney-based legal team representing Mr Roberts-Smith in his defamation case against the Nine media group over a series of articles about his time in Afghanistan.
He is the subject of an Australian Federal Police investigation relating to war crimes alleged to have been committed in Afghanistan.
And he is a key figure in the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force's "Afghanistan inquiry'', which is due to report next month after a four-year investigation into allegations Australian Special Forces soldiers committed war crimes, including, as Federal Parliament was told, "unlawful killings'' and "cruel treatment'' of non-combatants.
Mr Roberts-Smith's employer Seven West Media did not respond to questions asked of him.
He has always vehemently denied any wrongdoing in Afghanistan.
Ms Allen, who works for Mark O'Brien Legal as a senior associate, did not respond to News Corp questions.
Emma Roberts-Smith declined to comment.
The IGADF report, due to go to the Chief of the Defence Force General Angus Campbell next month, is being nervously anticipated by the Canberra establishment, which is expecting bombshell findings into the actions of individual soldiers, and the culture within the SAS in the years leading up to 2016.
Defence Minister Linda Reynolds yesterday warned the report would make for uncomfortable reading.
"This will be one of the most significant events in the history of the Australian Defence Force,'' one senior source said.
The controversy has been turbocharged by the inclusion among the persons of interest of Mr Roberts-Smith - war hero, holder of both the Victoria Cross and Medal for Gallantry, former Father of the Year and chairman of the National Australia Day Council, and Australia's only bona fide celebrity soldier.
His patron is Perth billionaire Kerry Stokes, a generous benefactor to the SAS, who is also chairman of the Australian War Memorial in Canberra and has "personally guaranteed'' a controversial $500 million redevelopment of the memorial will not run over budget.
Mr Stokes owns Seven West Media where Mr Roberts-Smith works as Queensland's general manager.
Late last month, Mr Roberts-Smith and Ms Allen were seen strolling Brisbane's South Bank hand-in hand, and riding scooters through the Botanic Gardens.
They were seen at his Brisbane apartment on several consecutive days. Mr Roberts-Smith is understood to be living in Brisbane after moving out of the Sunshine Coast home he shared with his wife and daughters.
Documents tabled in the Federal Court show Ms Allen is taking legal instructions from Mr Roberts-Smith.
In an order handed down in May, presiding judge Justice Anthony Besanko refers to a sworn statement Ms Allen has made about the impact of Nine's reporting on Mr Roberts-Smith.
"The applicant (Mr Roberts-Smith) relied on an affidavit of Ms Monica Helen Allen sworn on 20 April 2020 who is a solicitor at the firm acting for the applicant in each of the four proceedings,'' Justice Besanko said.
"A number of (Nine's) articles are produced by Ms Allen. She states that she is instructed that the ongoing impacts of the publication of the matters complained of on the applicant and his family have been considerably exacerbated by the respondents republishing the allegations every few months.''
The judge notes that Ms Allen has stated that since the publication of the stories, Mr Roberts-Smith had suffered "severe insomnia,'' had stopped receiving speaking engagements, and was not invited to any events on Anzac Day this year.
"Ms Allen is instructed that each morning the applicant feels anxious and has a sense of dread about what allegations will be made about him by the respondents,'' Justice Besanko stated.
Mr Roberts-Smith joined the military immediately after leaving school at the age of 17, and had an extraordinarily privileged early life.
"He's West Australian royalty,'' a fellow WA resident told News Corp.
His brother is Sam Roberts-Smith, a highly-awarded tenor with Opera Australia, who has performed around the world.
His father is Len Roberts-Smith QC, a retired WA Supreme Court and appeals court judge who was himself a Major-General in the Army Reserve. He was the Judge Advocate General (JAG) for the Australian Defence Force and the Commissioner of the Crime and Corruption Commission.
In 2011 Ben and Sam Roberts-Smith attended prestigious Hale School, which, according to its website has "produced six Premiers, an Acting Prime Minister, numerous recipients of the Orders of Australia, 13 Rhodes Scholars and influential pioneers of the State's pastoralist, forestry and iron ore industries.''
Famous alumni include former premier of WA and current Ambassador to Japan Richard Court, former Director-General of ASIO David Irvine, current Attorney-General Christian Porter, Australian cricketer Geoff Marsh, AFL Brownlow medallist Tom Mitchell, America's Cup winning crewman John Longley, a couple of crown princes and sultans, business titans Andrew Forrest and Richard Goyder, and the now-deceased WA mining heavyweights Lang Hancock and Peter Wright, who met there before going into business.
Originally published as New woman in Ben Roberts-Smith's life