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Lisa Wilkinson was WARNED her Logies victory speech could jeopardise Brittany Higgin’s rape trial

Lisa Wilkinson was warned that her speech at Logies could jeopardize a rape case, but went ahead anyway before her decision backfired spectacularly and the judge postponed the case.

Accused rapist of Brittany Higgins, Bruce Lehrmann, was given a temporary stay in the ACT Supreme Court on Tuesday after his lawyer said a jury trial would be “unsustainable” after reporting The Project presenter’s winning speech.

Chief Justice Lucy McCallum told the court that the journalist had previously sought advice about whether the speech was appropriate.

Ms Wilkinson met with Attorney General Shane Drumgold on June 15 to discuss evidence she would provide at trial.

At the end of the meeting, Ms. Wilkinson was asked if she had any questions and mentioned that she had been nominated for a Logie award, according to a note from the meeting made by the DPP.

Ms Wilkinson said she didn’t think she would win because it was hosted by a rival network, but went on to read the speech she planned to give if she won.

TV host Lisa Wilkinson (right) pictured with former political staffer Brittany Higgins (left)

TV host Lisa Wilkinson (right) pictured with former political staffer Brittany Higgins (left)

However, the DPP held her back, advising that he did not have the power to approve or advise the speech.

“We are not speech editors,” Mr. Drumgold told Mrs. Wikinson.

Justice McCallum said Mrs Wilkinson went ahead with her plans despite the warning.

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

Justice McCallum said recent media publicity had compromised Lehrmann’s right to a fair trial.

“The case has received a lot of media attention… which, while not unprecedented, is certainly extreme,” she said.

Extensive media coverage of alleged criminal behavior is not in itself naughty.

“What’s a potential disaster is that the media reports about such cases in such a way… that it influences the criminal case.”

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Bruce Lehrmann (pictured), is accused of having sexual intercourse without consent. He pleaded not guilty to assaulting Brittany Higgins in the parliament building in Canberra.

Justice McCallum says that while jurors can get directions to reduce bias, this case was different with Wilkinson as the key witness.

No date has been set for the trial, but the judge said she wants the trial to be held this year, with a list in October likely to allow enough time for the publicity to subside.

Earlier, Judge McCallum criticized Ms Wilkinson’s speech, saying the line between an impeachment and finding guilt had been “completely erased” by her speech from Logies.

Wilkinson won a Logie for her coverage of Mrs Higgins’ allegation that she had been raped in Parliament House.

Lehrmann, charged with unauthorized sexual intercourse, has pleaded not guilty to assaulting Ms Higgins.

“Your Honor, there was no need to make this speech,” said Lehrmann’s attorney Steve Whybrow.

Earlier on Tuesday, Whybrow launched the stay application after Wilkinson’s speech.

Mr Whybrow said a temporary stay – essentially a reprieve – was the only way to allow due process so that “adverse publicity can disappear”.

TV host Lisa Wilkinson (left) pictured with former political staffer Brittany Higgins (right)

TV host Lisa Wilkinson (left) pictured with former political staffer Brittany Higgins (right)

“It is unsustainable in my opinion to hold a trial under these circumstances at the moment,” he said.

Judge McCallum criticized the media for reporting Wilkinson’s speech.

“What worries me most about this recent round is that the distinction between an accusation and an admission of guilt has been completely erased…on Sunday and Monday,” she said.

“The implicit premise of (Wilkinson’s speech) is to celebrate the truth of the story she uncovered.”

She added that Ms Higgins’ allegation in the minds of the public had been bundled with the work of former Australian of the year Grace Tame, despite a man having been convicted in Ms Tame’s case.

“Grace Tame spoke about her experience after the man was convicted and served a prison term,” Judge McCallum said.

Tame’s major contribution to the legal landscape has been to say ‘the jury knows what he did, the public knows what he did, but I can’t talk about it because of the law that forbids me to go public myself. to go’.

Former political staffer Brittany Higgins (photo front) addresses media as she leaves Commonwealth parliamentary offices after meeting then Prime Minister Scott Morrison in Sydney on Friday 30 April 2021

Former political staffer Brittany Higgins (photo front) addresses media as she leaves Commonwealth parliamentary offices after meeting then Prime Minister Scott Morrison in Sydney on Friday 30 April 2021

“Miss Higgins is treated as if she were in the same category. And she isn’t,” the judge said.

“Right now, she’s not in that category. That’s what really bothers me about the last lap.’

The Crown had opposed the temporary suspension, arguing that the application did not outline a sufficiently high risk to the jury that could not be overcome by court orders.

“The test that is most appropriate … is a real and substantial risk that, despite efforts by the trial judge, there will be jurors who may not have been aware of guilt and cannot be remedied” ACT Director of Public Prosecutions Shane Drumgold said. the court.

“We accept that there is a significant change, but the application limited to what it is limited to will not give rise to a temporary stay.”

The Supreme Court was told Wilkinson would be called as a witness at the trial.

Justice Lucy McCallum said the public has confused the case of Brittany Higgins (right) with the work of former Australian of the year Grace Tame (left), despite a man being convicted in Mrs Tame's case.

Justice Lucy McCallum said the public has confused the case of Brittany Higgins (right) with the work of former Australian of the year Grace Tame (left), despite a man being convicted in Mrs Tame’s case.

On Monday, Mr Drumgold said Logies’ speech was a ‘burp’ of emotion, pointing out that Ms Wilkinson had said similar things before.

Judge McCallum said, in summary, Ms Wilkinson’s speech came to this: ‘Not only do I believe her, but she is brave and extraordinary and she is the most important thing that ever happened to me and I am proud to put forward her claim. . †

“We know that the suspect gave a taped interview in which he denies that any sexual activity took place,” she said.

A previous request for a postponement was rejected by Judge McCallum in April, when she said she was not convinced the evidence given to the jury could not allay concerns about bias against Lehrmann.

Mr Drumgold argued that the second request was a ‘re-agitation of that order’.

The case was initially scheduled to start on June 6, but was adjourned to June 27 after Lehrmann’s lawyer withdrew days before the trial.

Lisa Wilkinson is pictured giving her Logies speech on Sunday night, where she thanked Brittany Higgins for sharing her story of an alleged sexual assault

Lisa Wilkinson is pictured giving her Logies speech on Sunday night, where she thanked Brittany Higgins for sharing her story of an alleged sexual assault

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