Bruce Lehrmann's trial delayed after publicity surrounding Lisa Wilkinson's Logies speech

Bruce Lehrmann’s trial delayed after publicity surrounding Lisa Wilkinson’s Logies speech


The trial of Bruce Lehrmann, the man accused of sexually assaulting Brittany Higgins inside parliament house, has been delayed following the publicity surrounding Lisa Wilkinson’s speech at the Logie Awards on Sunday night.

The trial in the ACT Supreme Court was scheduled to start next week, on Monday, June 27, but Chief Justice Lucy McCallum has now said she will push back date of the trial.

“The recent publicity does in my view, change the landscape because of its immediacy, its intensity and its capacity to obliterate the important distinction between an allegation that remains untested at law,” McCallum said on Tuesday.

On Sunday night, Wilkinson won the Logie for Most Outstanding News Coverage or Public Affairs Report for her work on the Higgins’ case, including the interview she did with the former Liberal staffer in February last year.

She spoke about how Higgins had helped to inspire “more than a hundred thousand similarly pissed off, exhausted, fierce women.”

Lehrmann was charged last year for the rape of Higgins in March 2019, and has pleaded not guilty. His lawyer launched a stay application after Wilkinson’s speech.

According to Lehrmann’s barrister Steve Whybrow, more than 800,000 internet searches were made on Monday in connection to Wilkinson’s speech.

Steve Whybrow said in court his client did not wish to delay proceedings.

“He wants to get it on, but he wants a fair trial,” Whybrow said.

This is not the first stay application submitted by Lehrmann’s team. In April, his team made an application to have the case delayed, but the court ordered the trial to proceed as scheduled.

Last month, the case was delayed after Lehrmann revealed he no longer had a barrister to represent his case, after his former barrister John Korn, dropped out. Whybrow stepped in to take on the case.  

In March, the ACT’s Chief Justice Lucy McCallum delivered a strong message about the nature of the trial, warning “any person who has any interest” in the case to be careful. 

“The more people keep talking about this case the greater the risk the prosecution will be stayed,” Justice McCallum said in the ACT Supreme Court.

“A man has been accused of a very serious offence, it is an offence that can only be tried with a jury. The laws about contempt are well known in this country.”

“Statements made before a criminal trial that might interfere with the administration of justice and, in particular, the ability of an accused man to have a fair trial risk falling in the classification of contempt.”

Justice McCallum’s warning came just weeks after former Prime Minister Scott Morrison gave a historic apology in parliament to victims of bullying, harassment, and abuse in the building, where he addressed Higgins directly.

“I am sorry to Miss Higgins for the terrible things that took place here,” he said. “And that what should have been a place for safety and contribution, turned out to be a nightmare.”

“I want this to be a place where young Australians, and young women in particular, can follow their dreams…and not have them crushed by brutality and the misuse of power.” 

Wilkinson’s speech

On Sunday night Network Ten’s The Project took home two Logie Awards — Most Popular Panel or Current Affairs Program, and Most Outstanding News Coverage or Public Affairs Report for Wilkinson’s work on Higgins’ case. 

“After 40 years in journalism, this interview and this story is by far the most important work I have ever done,” Wilkinson said in her acceptance speech.

“I knew it from the very first phone call I had early last year with a young woman whose name she told me was Brittany Higgins.”

“Four incredibly intense and sleepless weeks of investigation later, when our story went to air, the entire country knew the name Brittany Higgins.”

“As Brittany warned me before we went to air, her story would be seen by many of the most powerful people in this country, not as a human problem, but as a political problem.”

“Brittany Higgins was a political problem. And governments tend to like political problems to go away. But Brittany never did. And the truth is, this honour belongs to Brittany,” she continued.

“It belongs to a woman who inspired more than a hundred thousand similarly pissed off, exhausted, fierce women – and men- to take to the streets right across this country to roar…in numbers too big to ignore.”

“Brittany, thank you for trusting me, thank you for trusting this wonderful team – producer Angus Llewelyn, and editor Darryl Brown – thank you for trusting The Project, our bosses, Beverly McGarvey, Chris Bendall, Sarah Thornton, Peter Meakin & Craig Campbell…thank you for helping to change the national conversation.”

“On behalf of all the generations of women to come, thank you Brittany, for never giving up.”

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