Lisa Wilkinson’s bosses send letter to the judge after Logies speech, Brittany Higgins rape trial

Lisa Wilkinson offers to STOP talking about Brittany Higgins’ case in urgent letter to the judge – as prosecutor warns The Project host’s disastrous Logies speech sparked a ‘bushfire of publicity’

Lisa Wilkinson’s Channel Ten bosses have sent an urgent letter to prosecutors in the Brittany Higgins’ rape trial – as the hearing date is moved to October.

Bruce Lehrmann was charged with sexual intercourse without consent following allegations that he raped Ms Higgins in an office at Parliament House in March 2019. Mr Lehrmann has pleaded not guilty.

He was due to stand trial on June 27, however, ACT Chief Justice Lucy McCallum told the Supreme Court that recent media publicity had prejudged his right to a fair trial.

The recent events she was referring to happened on Sunday evening at the Logie awards – when Network 10 journalist Lisa Wilkinson made reference to Ms Higgins’ allegations during her acceptance speech in front of one-million viewers. 

Mr Lehrmann’s lawyer Steven Whybrow asked Justice McCallum in the Supreme Court on Thursday morning if the hearing could be moved to next year due to the ‘bushfire’ of publicity that he believed would still be burning in three months’ time.

However, the judge said she would not wait and set a new date of October 4.

The crown prosecutor mentioned a letter from Wilkinson and Network 10 that was tendered to the court – which includes references to the fact that ‘interfering with the court proceedings could result in contempt’.

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

It is unclear if Wilkinson will be charged with contempt of court, however, it is understood that she could find out about any consequences by the close of business on Thursday. 

Contempt of court is when an individual who is called to give evidence intentionally engages in behaviour considered to be disrespectful to the court or magistrate. 

The judge explained that Wilkinson is a key witness in the trial, and that the primary concern this week was paneling a jury in a listing which included the journalist.

She was confident that delaying the trial by three months would be enough time to dampen the publicity in the minds of the jurors – despite Mr Whybrow’s protests.

‘I told you I wouldn’t expect that it will take longer than six weeks, but I would ask for six weeks for safety,’ he told the judge.

Justice McCallum replied: ‘I can’t see how a trial involving a single incident with a single complainant could take six weeks.’

‘I’ve conducted complex murder trials in less than that. 

‘I cannot see how it can possibly take six weeks.’ 

Lisa Wilkinson is pictured giving her Logies speech on Sunday night

Lisa Wilkinson is pictured giving her Logies speech on Sunday night

Justice McCallum said on Tuesday: ‘The case has accordingly attracted a level of attention in the media … that while not unprecedented, is certainly extreme.’

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

STATEMENT FROM NETWORK TEN 

‘Network 10 acknowledges the ruling by Chief Justice McCallum and fully supports Lisa Wilkinson. 

‘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. 

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

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

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

Wilkinson won a Logie for her reporting on Ms Higgins’ rape claims. 

‘Your honour, this speech did not need to be made,’ Lehrmann’s barrister Steve Whybrow said.  

Mr Whybrow launched the stay application on Tuesday, following Wilkinson’s speech.

He said a temporary stay – essentially, a delay – was the only recourse to allow for a fair trial so ‘adverse publicity can dissipate’.

‘It’s untenable in my submission for a trial to be held under these circumstances at this time,’ he said. 

Justice McCallum slammed the media over its reporting of Wilkinson’s speech. 

‘What concerns me most about this recent round is that the distinction between an allegation and a finding of guilt has been completely obliterated …  on Sunday and Monday,’ she said. 

‘The implicit premise of (Wilkinson’s speech) is to celebrate the truthfulness of the story she exposed.’ 

Wilkinson’s speech could see her charged with contempt of court.

The case was initially due to begin on June 6 but was delayed until June 27 after Lehrmann’s barrister pulled out days before the trial. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk

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