BEN Roberts-Smith's battle against Fairfax Media is the most sensational civil defamation trial in the history of Australia's legal system.
It had everything. It intersected power, media, politics, the culture wars and struck at the heart of Australia's mythologised version of its armed forces, immersed in the Anzac spirit of fighting hard, but fair.
Ultimately the truth won. Roberts-Smith - who is Australia's most decorated living soldier - was found in June to be a war criminal by the Federal Court of Australia, and Fairfax Media (now Nine Entertainment) and the reporting of journalists Nick McKenzie and Chris Masters was proven correct.
Both McKenzie and Masters have since published books about their five-year journey of investigating claims of war crimes by the Australian military in Afghanistan, which in the most harrowing cases, included shooting prisoners and kicking an unarmed civilian off a cliff before executing him.
McKenzie and Masters have reunited for feature-length documentary, Revealed: Ben Roberts-Smith Truth On Trial.
While the documentary doesn't produce any fresh evidence for anyone who's followed the story closely or read the books, but it offers a fascinating summation.
It was a battle between power and truth and power won for lots of it, but finally, truth triumphs.- Nick McKenzie
"I don't think anybody has gotten to see the inside story in a documentary format of this whole crazy saga," McKenzie says.
"People have gotten it in little news bits here and there, the breaking of the individual story, the suing by Ben Roberts-Smith, the court case that had so many twists and turns."
When McKenzie and Masters first started reporting on Roberts-Smith's war crimes in 2018 they were met with a wall of resistance. People such as billionaire Seven Network owner Kerry Stokes and former Liberal opposition leader Brendan Nelson strongly backed the "war hero", as did large segments of News Limited.
Many Australians also refused to believe the reports, as McKenzie says, "It's a grim and ugly truth, but I'd rather that than some fantasy."
Six months on from the dismissal of Roberts-Smith's defamation claim, the impacts of the saga on McKenzie are still present.
"There's a sense of relief, but no sense of vindication," he says. "I think about it less and less. Part of it still pisses me off that we went through all of it as some bloke wanted to push lies.
"I think it's such a huge amount of stress that a lot our witnesses endured, lots of soldiers endured and other witnesses, and what we endured as reporters.
"There was a huge waste of money and the court's time just because Ben Roberts-Smith wanted to make some lies win."
McKenzie has won 16 Walkley Awards during his 20-year career reporting on organised crime, politics and corruption.
But he says the Roberts-Smith case was easily the most difficult due to the code of silence in the SAS and Stokes' media and political influence.
"All those roadblocks were massive, but ultimately they weren't insurmountable," he says. "This is the nice thing. It was a battle between power and truth and power won for lots of it, but finally truth triumphs."
Many in military circles have criticised McKenzie's reporting for besmirching its standing with the Australian public. However, McKenzie says ultimately by exposing Roberts-Smith's war crimes, the military is stronger.
"If one young Australian soldier in 10 years time is about to execute a civilian who is handcuffed and thinks for a moment, 'no', [that's a positive]," he says.
"If the Ben Roberts-Smith case taught the nation anything, it's there are consequences for illegal action in war.
"If that means the young soldier doesn't squeeze the trigger, that's gotta be a good thing."
Revealed: Ben Roberts-Smith Truth On Trial premieres on Stan on Sunday.