Calls are mounting for Lisa Wilkinson to return her Logie award (pictured)
Lisa Wilkinson will not be stripped of her Silver Logie after a leaked pre-interview lunch with Brittany Higgins and others revealed the extent to which The Project host tried to politicize her rape allegation.
There have been increasing calls in recent days for Wilkinson to return her gong for Most Outstanding News Coverage of Public Affairs Report, which she received last June for her explosive interview with the former Liberal staffer.
The calls were prompted by the appearance of a recording of a five o’clock meeting between Wilkinson, her Channel Ten producer Angus Llewellyn, Mrs Higgins and her boyfriend David Sharaz in a Sydney hotel room in January 2021.
On the TV programme, which aired about two weeks later on 15 February, Ms Higgins alleged that she was raped by former colleague Bruce Lehrmann in Parliament House in March 2019. He has always denied the allegations.
The allegations that arose from the taped lunch meeting are that Wilkinson coached and exhorted Ms. Higgins about the rape allegations prior to her interview.
The group also spoke of the Labor politicians they claimed they could rely on to fire off Questions Time questions and the apparent mockery of the Liberal Party’s pre-selection of Indigenous candidates.
Wilkinson was later forced to apologize to candidate Jacinta Nampijinpa Price after she appeared to compare her pre-selection to a white family “hiring a black cleaner.”
A recording of a five-hour meeting between Wilkinson, her Channel Ten producer Angus Llewellyn, Brittany Higgins and her boyfriend David Sharaz (both pictured) in a Sydney hotel room in January 2021 has revealed the extent to which The Project presenter has ignored the allegations
But it’s unlikely Wilkinson will have to return her award, as it was awarded to the entire The Project team, not just the host. Pictured: Lisa Wilkson and husband Peter FitzSimons
But despite these damning revelations, it’s highly unlikely that Wilkinson will be ordered to return her Logie, as it’s been awarded to The Project team rather than just the host.
“It was never personally awarded to Lisa Wilkinson. It was won by The Project and Network Ten. Lisa may have made it all about Lisa, but it’s the price of the show,” a well-placed source said told the Australian Journal.
The source added that there was “no rule in the guidelines” stipulating that the Logie should be returned.
However, it is not uncommon for journalists to be forced to hand in prizes.
Two Channel Nine news reporters were stripped of their Walkley Awards last year for a story about former federal MP Andrew Laming after he successfully sued the media company for libel.
Mr. Lehrmann is pursuing a defamation suit against Network Ten and Wilkinson, which will be heard by a judge in November.
He claims that Wilkinson’s interview with Ms Higgins conveyed a range of defamatory meanings, including that he raped Ms Higgins in 2019 in the office of then Defense Industry Secretary Linda Reynolds.
Bruce Lehrmann (pictured, left) is pursuing a defamation suit against Network Ten and Wilkinson
In their defense filed in Federal Court, Ten said it would rely on defense of truth and qualified privilege.
Wilkinson famously basked in her triumph at last year’s awards show.
“After 40 years in journalism, this interview and story is by far the most important work I have ever done,” she told the audience at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre.
And I knew it from the very first phone call I had last year from a young woman whose name, she told me, was Brittany Higgins.
“As Brittany warned me before we went on air, her story would be seen not as a human problem by many of the most powerful people in this country, but as a political one.”
Mr Lehrmann went on trial in the ACT High Court last year after pleading not guilty to sexually assaulting Ms Higgins, but the trial was dropped due to juror misconduct.
The charges were later dropped by the Director of Public Prosecutions and Mr. Lehrmann continued to deny the allegation.
He is also suing the ABC over the live broadcast of Mrs. Higgins’ address to the National Press Club on February 9, 2022.
He claims that broadcasting the address implied that he had raped Mrs Higgins, even though he was not mentioned in the speech.