The Brittany Higgins Trial Has Been Delayed After Lisa Wilkinson’s Logies 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."
The judge overseeing Brittany Higgins’ rape allegation trial has blasted The Project host Lisa Wilkinson for her Logies victory speech after it prompted the trial to be delayed.
The trial was set to kick off in the ACT Supreme Court on Monday, June 27 but is now delayed indefinitely amid renewed media attention, which could jeopardise the trial.
ACT Chief Justice Lucy McCallum called out Wilkinson for her speech, asserting that it crossed the line between an allegation — which is what the situation currently is — and guilt, which is yet to be proven.
“What concerns me most about this recent round is that the distinction between an allegation and a finding of guilt has been completely obliterated in the discussion on Sunday and Monday,’’ said McCallum. “The implicit premise of [Lisa Wilkinson’s speech] is to celebrate the truthfulness of the story she exposed.”
In a lengthy statement, McCallum noted that Higgins’ situation was being likened to that of Grace Tame — despite the fact that Higgins’ allegations are yet to go to trial and nobody has been convicted thus far.
“Miss Higgins is treated as being in the same category. And she’s not,’’ said McCallum. “At the moment, she is not in that category. That’s what really troubles me about the last round.”
The comment comes after lawyers acting on behalf of Bruce Lehrmann — who is charged with one count of sex without consent in relation to Brittany Higgins’ allegation of an incident that allegedly took place in Parliament House in March 2019 — launched another bid to delay the trial after the Logies brought fresh attention to the trial.
“Your honour, this speech did not need to be made,’’ barrister Steve Whybrow, who represents Lehrmann said, claiming that more than 800,000 searches were made in relation to Wilkinson’s speech
Lehrmann has pleaded not guilty and told police that he did not have sex with Higgins.
Whybrow claimed his client does not want to delay proceedings, but wants a fair trial.
“He (Lehrmann) wants to get it on, but he wants a fair trial,” said Whybrow.
The blasting from McCallum comes after she issued a “blunt” warning earlier this year, specifically urging people to be careful not to jeopardise the trial with their online commentary.
“A man has been accused of a very serious offence, it is an offence that can only be tried with a jury,” she said in the ACT Supreme Court. “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.
“If I could put it in blunter terms, the more people keep talking about this case the greater the risk the prosecution will be stayed.”
Wilkinson is expected to be called as a witness in the trial.
In a statement on Tuesday, McCallum said she was delaying the trial “through gritted teeth”, but hopes it will kick off later this year.
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