Judge lashes Lisa Wilkinson’s Logies speech as accused man’s lawyer says The Project host has made Brittany Higgins rape trial ‘untenable’ days before the case was due to start: ‘Completely obliterated’
- Trial of man accused of rape could be delayed due to Lisa Wilkinson speech
- Bruce Lehrmann has pleaded not guilty to assaulting Brittany Higgins
- Ms Wilkinson thanked Ms Higgins in Logies speech for sharing her story
The trial of the man accused of raping Brittany Higgins could be delayed after his lawyers asserted Lisa Wilkinson’s Logies speech may prejudice the jury – with the judge criticising The Project host’s comments.
Bruce Lehrmann, charged with sexual intercourse without consent, has pleaded not guilty to assaulting Ms Higgins at Parliament House in Canberra. He was expected to stand trial in front of a jury as early as next week.
On Tuesday, Lehrmann’s barrister Steve Whybrow launched a fresh stay application following Wilkinson’s Logies speech on Sunday night, where she thanked Ms Higgins for sharing her story.
Mr Whybrow said a temporary stay – essentially, a delay – was the only recourse to allow for a fair trial so ‘adverse publicity can dissipate’.
TV presenter Lisa Wilkinson (left) is pictured with former political staffer Brittany Higgins (right)
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
‘It’s untenable in my submission for a trial to be held under these circumstances at this time,’ he told the ACT Supreme Court on Tuesday.
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 (Lisa Wilkinson’s speech) is to celebrate the truthfulness of the story she exposed.’
The Crown opposed the temporary stay, arguing the application did not outline a significant enough risk to the jury that couldn’t be overcome by orders made by the judge.
‘The test most apt … is a real and substantial risk that despite endeavours by the trial judge there will be members of the jury that would have prejudged guilt perhaps unaware and that cannot be remedied,’ Director of Public Prosecutions Shane Drumgold told the court.
Bruce Lehrmann (pictured), is charged with sexual intercourse without consent. He has pleaded not guilty to assaulting Brittany Higgins at Parliament House in Canberra
‘We accept there is a significant change but the application limited to what it is limited to does not give rise to a temporary stay.’
Chief Justice Lucy McCallum reserved her decision until 2pm.
An initial stay application was dismissed by Chief Justice McCallum in April, when she said she wasn’t persuaded directions given to the jury couldn’t alleviate concerns of prejudice against Lehrmann.
Mr Drumgold argued the new application constituted ‘a re-agitation of that order’.
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.
Former political staffer Brittany Higgins (pictured front) speaks to the media as she leaves the Commonwealth Parliamentary Offices after meeting with then prime minister Scott Morrison in Sydney on Friday, April 30, 2021