A news website edited by the daughter of Lisa Wilkinson defended itself by using a disclaimer on articles about Bruce Lehrmann saying that she has “no input” on his post.
Billi FitzSimons, 25, the daughter of Wilkinson and fellow journalist Peter FitzSimons, has been editor of The Daily Aus since March 2022.
The publication has moved to address the role of FitzSimons’ mother in the chaotic prosecution of Mr Lehrmann for the alleged rape of Brittany Higgins after the damning results of the Sofronoff Inquiry.
Daily Aus co-founders Zara Seidler and Sam Koslowski said that “declaring any personal connection to a story is a key pillar of our journalistic integrity.”
“We are incredibly proud of Billi’s significant contribution as an editor,” Seidler and Koslowski told Daily Mail Australia.
A news website edited by Lisa Wilkinson’s daughter now uses a disclaimer on articles about Bruce Lehrmann saying she has “no input” on their post. Billi FitzSimons (left) is pictured with her mother, Lisa Wilkinson
Billi FitzSimons, 25, daughter of Lisa Wilkinson and fellow journalist Peter FitzSimons. The new disclaimer is shown in the Daily Aus post.
Walter Sofronoff examined the conduct of police and prosecutors in the ACT Supreme Court trial of Mr. Lehrmann, which was abandoned due to jury misconduct.
Sofronoff found that Wilkinson’s ’45 years of experience’ in journalism should have led her to know what would jeopardize a jury trial, a reference to the trial being delayed after her speech when she won a Logie for reporting on the case. .
The former Queensland High Court justice also pointed out that Wilkinson, who was working for Network 10 at the time, was clearly not without legal advice.
There were calls for Wilkinson to be held in contempt of court after she mentioned Higgins in her speech for winning the Logie Award for Outstanding News Coverage for her interview with the former ministerial staffer in 2021.
Ms Higgins alleged that Mr Lehrmann raped her at Parliament House in Canberra when they were colleagues in 2019, which he has always vehemently denied.
ACT Chief Justice Lucy McCallum expressed concern that Wilkinson’s comments in the Logies could prejudice jurors.
Network 10 then announced that it had retained high-profile attorney Matthew Collins on behalf of the channel and Wilkinson just hours after Dr. Collins criticized Wilkinson’s speech on rival Chanel Seven’s morning show Sunrise.
“It is certainly possible for the authorities to look at the speech he made before the Logies and assess (whether) that speech went against the standard that applies in this branch of law,” said Dr Collins.
‘That standard is, did anything she did have a tendency to interfere with the administration of justice?’
Ms McCallum decided to delay the trial “unfortunately and through gritted teeth” because “somewhere in this debate, the distinction between an unproven allegation and the fact of guilt has been lost.”
She said public interest in the case had to wane before Lehrmann would have access to a fair jury.
The charge against her was dropped entirely last December due to concerns for Ms Higgins’ mental health.
Billi FitzSimons (pictured) has been editor of ‘social media first’ outlet The Daily Aus since March 2022
Sofronoff’s 839-page report referred to ACT’s then director of public prosecution, Shane Drumgold, who analyzed some of Higgins’ speeches and searched for words that could jeopardize the trial, including the Logies’.
“This was exactly what Ms. Wilkinson wanted Mr. Drumgold to do,” said Mr. Sofronoff.
“Despite this, to explain his failure, he later characterized Ms Wilkinson’s request as a request for legal advice.”
Sofronoff also said Drumgold was “chosen” about who he advised because, on three occasions, he helped Higgins with matters that could affect the trial, but refused to do the same for Wilkinson.
Billi FitzSimons (right) is pictured with her mother, fellow journalist Lisa Wilkinson
Billi FitzSimons (right) is pictured with her mother Lisa Wilkinson (left) and father Peter FitzSimons (center)
Drumgold resigned after the report was released, but issued a scathing statement on his way out, saying, “Having read the report, I question many of its adverse findings about me.”
He admitted to making ‘mistakes’ during the case, but ‘strongly disputed’ the claim that he was ‘dishonest’ and ‘engaged in willful or covert conduct at trial’.
“While I accept that my conduct was less than perfect, all of my decisions were made in good faith, under intense and at times overwhelming pressure, with increasingly unmanageable workloads,” Drumgold said.
Full statement from The Daily Aus on the use of a disclaimer on articles about Bruce Lehrmann saying that Billi FitzSimons “has no input” on them
Billi FitzSimons appears in Sydney
‘The Daily Aus is a news platform based on quality journalism and transparency.
“Declaring any personal connection to a story is a key pillar of our journalistic integrity and ensures that we maintain the high levels of trust that we have successfully built with our audience.
“We are incredibly proud of Billi’s important contribution as editor of The Daily Aus every day.”
– from The Daily Aus co-founders Zara Seidler and Sam Koslowski