War crimes panel added to Ben Roberts-Smith display

Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS

A panel has been installed by the Australian War Memorial at a Ben Roberts-Smith display acknowledging he was "involved and complicit in unlawful killings".

The war memorial added the message to the display following the Victoria Cross recipient's defeat in a landmark defamation loss to Nine-owned newspapers.

"Accounts of alleged misconduct by a small number of Australian Special Forces soldiers in Afghanistan began appearing in the media from late 2016," the revised panel reads.

"Claims were later heard in a civil defamation case brought by Roberts-Smith against media outlets and journalists.

"In June 2023 a Federal Court Judge determined that there was "substantial truth" to the allegations that Roberts-Smith had been involved and complicit in unlawful killings in Afghanistan. Roberts-Smith has appealed this decision.

"Roberts-Smith has not been charged with any offence under criminal law."

Justice Anthony Besanko found the decorated soldier murdered four unarmed prisoners in Afghanistan.

More than 300 collection items relating to peacekeeping and Middle East operations were removed last month, including portraits of Ben Roberts-Smith.

But the war memorial has clarified that the removal of his portraits from public display was due to renovations taking place.

A spokeswoman said the change had been planned since 2021 to support the development project and exhibition displays in a new space.

"The memorial will display thousands of new objects in an expanded Peacekeeping and Middle East galleries in the new Anzac Hall," she said.

"Two Ben Roberts-Smith portraits have been decanted as part of these planned gallery works."