Pictured: Brittany Higgins (left) and Lisa Wilkinson (right)
Lisa Wilkinson has scathingly brought down the top prosecutor who presided over Bruce Lehrmann’s rape trial, in a statement released by an investigation.
The TV presenter accused ACT’s Director of Public Prosecutions, Shane Drumgold SC, of betraying her trust and his duty as a legal officer, and misleading a chief judge in the fiery document made public on Thursday.
Wilkinson faced extreme criticism after she won a Logie award for her interview with Brittany Higgins on The Project in June last year, when the former Liberal staffer first made her allegations that Mr Lehrmann raped her in Parliament House in 2019.
During her acceptance speech, which was broadcast nationally, the TV journalist appeared to side with Ms Higgins, saying she “believed” her accusations. Mr. Lehrmann has consistently denied any allegations.
Chief Justice Lucy McCallum, who presided over the rape trial, moved the hearing from June to October over fears Wilkinson’s comments would sway a jury.
At the time, the chief justice told ACT’s Supreme Court that the TV journalist had been warned not to make any public comments about the upcoming hearing. The public reaction was so fierce that Wilkinson quit her job as host of The Project.
Earlier this week, a committee of inquiry revealed that Wilkinson did not believe Mr Drumgold had warned her that her speech could jeopardize an impending lawsuit.
Channel Ten’s lawyers contacted Mr Drumgold five times between June and December last year, pleading with him to clear Wilkinson of any wrongdoing in the public eye. But he never did.
Now, according to a series of documents released by an investigative committee, Wilkinson blames the ACT director of prosecutions for failing to clear her name.
Also on Thursday, Mr. Drumgold is investigating that the CCTV footage of Mr Lehrmann and Mrs Higgins walking into the House of Parliament on the night of the alleged attack had ‘disappeared’.
The ACT DPP, Shane Drumgold SC, is pictured at the Canberra Commission of Inquiry.
The Commission of Inquiry is looking into how the rape trial was handled following Mr Drumgold’s allegation that there was ‘police and political interference’.
Included in the documents was a statement and a submission to the investigation on Wilkinson’s behalf by her attorney, Sue Chrysanthou.
The entry read: “Ms. Wilkinson wants to ensure that in the continuing interest of public interest journalism – the backbone on which a strong, fair and democratic society is founded.”
“Investigative journalists across the country should not be misrepresented by legal officials in whom they have placed their trust, and should not be given any chance to correct the public record when that trust proves misplaced.”
Further, the submission alleged that Mr Drumgold had failed to ‘provide procedural justice to Ms Wilkinson’ after the Chief Justice made inaccurate remarks saying the journalist had been warned against giving her Logie’s speech.
It also said Mr Drumgold repeatedly failed to correct the police report publicly and called on the inquiry to investigate and report on the ‘general conduct of the prosecution’.
According to the submission, Mr Drumgold told Channel Ten lawyers that he would ‘may say something in a public hearing’ to clear Wilkinson’s name in June, following her speech.
Failing that, lawyers for the network urged him to mention Wilkinson during his public speech on December 2 last year when he said charges against Mr. Lehrmann had been dropped. But he didn’t.
Mr Drumgold claimed footage of Bruce Lehrmann (pictured) and Brittany Higgins ‘disappeared’
During the inquiry on Thursday, Mr Drumgold was asked by his lawyer Mark Tedeschi why he had not made a statement about Wilkinson.
He replied, “It would have been completely inappropriate.”
“I would, rightly, have been publicly punished for that.
“This was about a lawsuit, not a TV personality’s reputation.”
Earlier on Thursday, Mr Drumgold told the inquiry that some of the CCTV footage of Mr Lehrmann and Mrs Higgins entering the House of Parliament on the night of the alleged assault had ‘gone’.
The Australian Federal Police had claimed the footage never existed, but Mr Drumgold said he viewed it on a USB stick given to him by police before returning it.
He told the investigation Thursday that when he went to see it last April, it was gone.
“I was unable to find the missing footage and felt that it should be obtained and included in the court documents,” he told the inquiry.
According to Mr Drumgold, the footage showed Mrs Higgins waving behind (Me Lehrmann’s) right shoulder. She moved her right hand to a wall as if to stabilize herself.
Brittany Higgins is pictured outside the ACT Supreme Court in October
“I was unable to locate the missing footage and felt it should be obtained and included in the process order.”
Mr Drumgold’s junior counsel at the trial, Skye Jerome, made a separate complaint to the inquiry, stating that she had also seen the footage – she recalled a man and woman standing at a gate with a buzzer, before they walked through the gate.
Part of her statement was redacted by the investigation.
‘I remember that the omitted CCTV footage depicted Mrs Higgins and Mr Lehrmann (redacted) at APH (Australian Parliament House). I remember Mr. Lehrmann standing in front of Ms. Higgins who was a bit unsteady/shifting her body weight,” her statement read.
“I remember seeing the pair briefly (edited).”
The footage would have disproved police officers’ view that Ms Higgins was, as she claimed, very intoxicated.
Ms Jerome told investigators she hoped “nothing illegal” had happened to the footage.
During the inquiry on Thursday, Mr Drumgold told the inquiry he did not think the footage had been deliberately removed, but that the missing footage sparked further disagreements between the prosecutor and police.
The investigation continues.
READ LISA’S ENTRY
Mrs. Wilkinson has suffered serious and ongoing reputational damage as a result of:
A. The misleading impression created by Mr. Drumgold when he informed McCallum CJ of the contents of his conversation with Mrs. Wilkinson about Logies’ speech; B. the failure to provide Ms. Wilkinson with procedural fairness;
B. then Her Honor’s ruling, which we respectfully submit, made false factual findings about Mrs. Wilkinson’s conduct; And
C. Mr. Drumgold SC’s repeated failure to publicly correct the record of that meeting.
By making this respectful submission to the investigation, Ms. Wilkinson wants to ensure that in the continuing interest of public interest journalism – the backbone on which a strong, fair and democratic society is built – investigative journalists across the country are not they have placed their trust, without any means of correcting the public record when that trust proves to be misplaced.
Mr. Drumgold’s conduct in failing to publicly correct the record relating to a statement he made in court in the R v Lehrmann case is a consequence of and incidental to the general conduct of Mr. the prosecutor.
Ms. Wilkinson requests that this be investigated and reported on as part of this investigation.