Lisa Wilkinson Logies speech: The Project journalist slammed after act delays Brittany Higgins’ rape trial

Lisa Wilkinson Logies speech: The Project journalist slammed after act delays Brittany Higgins’ rape trial

The trial of a man accused of sexually assaulting Brittany Higgins inside Parliament House has been delayed following an “ill-advised” Logie Awards speech by Lisa Wilkinson.

It has been revealed the media personality delivered her speech on Sunday despite being warned that publicly commenting about the upcoming rape case could lead to the trial being delayed.

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Bruce Lehrmann is accused of sexually assaulting fellow Liberal Party staffer Higgins inside an office in Parliament House in 2019.

He was due to stand trial in the ACT Supreme Court next week over the alleged rape.

He has pleaded not guilty.

The trial of a man accused of sexually assaulting Brittany Higgins inside Parliament House has been delayed following a Logie Awards speech by Lisa Wilkinson. Credit: instagram

Chief Justice Lucy McCallum told the court on Tuesday that recent media publicity had prejudged Lehrmann’s right to a fair trial.

“The case has accordingly attracted a level of attention in the media … that while not unprecedented is certainly extreme,” the chief justice said on Tuesday.

“Extensive media reporting of alleged criminal conduct is not mischievous in itself.

“What is a potential mischief is media reporting of such issues in such a way … it impacts the criminal case.”

Justice McCallum told the court she vacated the trial dates “with gritted teeth” after Lehrmann’s defense team requested a temporary stay in the wake of Wilkinson’s speech and surrounding publicity.

“Unfortunately, however, the recent publicity (of the speech) does, in my view, change the landscape,” she said.

“Because of its immediacy, its intensity and its capacity to obliterate the important distinction between an allegation that remains untested at law.

“For those reasons, regrettably and with gritted teeth, I have concluded that the trial date of 27 June towards which the parties have been carefully steering must be vacated.”

Lisa Wilkinson won a Logie for her interview with Brittany Higgins. Credit: Nine

Justice McCallum told the court that Wilkinson had spoken with the Director of Public Prosecutions Shane Drumgold on June 15 to discuss the evidence that she would give at the trial.

At that meeting, Wilkinson said she had been nominated for a Logie for her reporting of Higgins’ allegation on The Project last year.

The TV star was warned against commenting publicly on Higgins’ case, as it could lead to the trial being delayed.

Despite the warning, Wilkinson took to the stage after winning the Most Outstanding News Coverage or Public Affairs Report award.

Wilkinson delivered the speech despite being warned against doing so. Credit: Getty Images

Justice McCallum told the court on Tuesday that the speech and publicity following it left her with no other option but to delay the trial.

“Notwithstanding that clear and appropriate warning, upon receiving the award, Ms Wilkinson gave a speech in which she openly referred to and praised the complainant in the present trial,” Justice McCallum said.

“Unsurprisingly, the award, and the content of the speech have been the subject of further commentary.”

Lisa Wilkinson’s Logies speech may be investigated

President of the Australian Bar Association Matthew Collins said Wilkinson could be investigated and may face legal consequences over the speech.

“It’s certainly possible that the authorities will be looking at the speech that she made to the Logies and assessing that speech against the standard that applies in this branch of the law,” the barrister told Sunrise on Wednesday.

“That standard is, did anything that she did do have a tendency to interfere with the administration of justice?”

See Collins’ interview with Sunrise in the video player below

Lawyer explains Higgins trial delay.

Lawyer explains Higgins trial delay.

Collins said Wilkinson’s speech was “ill-advised” and that a media veteran should have known better.

“You would hope that whenever the media is contemplating running a story about a serious criminal trial which is about to begin, they would be attune to the potential risks,” he added.

“The mainstream media understand the risk inhering with talking about cases which are about to go to trial, particularly serious high-profile cases.

“So clearly this was ill-advised.

“The concern is that potential members of the jury whose job is to apply the presumption of innocence and to focus on the evidence in the trial might be influenced by things they’ve been exposed to in the media and in social media.”

A further hearing will be held on Thursday to determine when a new trial date can be set.

Lehrmann’s defense team said they wanted the trial to go ahead at a time that would be fair to their client.

“The delay of the present trial will not serve anyone,” said Lehrmann’s barrister, Steve Whybrow.

“[Lehrmann] has no interest in delaying the trial but he wants it to be a fair trial.”

Bruce Lehrmann is accused of sexually assaulting fellow Liberal Party staffer Higgins inside an office in Parliament House in 2019. Credit: instagram

Justice McCallum said the significant publicity had now “obliterated” the distinction between an allegation and a finding of guilt.

“The public at large is given to believe guilt is established. The importance of the rule of law has been set at nil.”

She told the court while jurors can be given directions to mitigate prejudice, this case was different with Wilkinson being a key witness.

A spokeswoman for Network 10 acknowledged the judge’s decision in a statement on Tuesday.

“Both Network 10 and Lisa Wilkinson take their legal obligations very seriously, including in the preparation and delivery of her speech given at the Logies event,” the spokeswoman said.

“In light of the continuing proceedings, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”

– With AAP

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