How Did Lisa Wilkinson’s Speech About Brittany Higgins Impact the Bruce Lehrmann Trial?

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Lisa Wilkinson is a well-known Australian journalist and television presenter who has made a name for herself as a respected and influential media personality. With over three decades of experience in the industry, Wilkinson has become a household name in Australia and beyond, thanks to her sharp wit, insightful commentary, and fearless approach to journalism.

Born and raised in Sydney, Wilkinson began her career in media as Dolly Magazine’s editor before moving on to work for various newspapers and magazines in Australia and the UK. She eventually landed a job as a reporter for the popular Australian current affairs program “Today Tonight”, where she quickly made a name for herself as a hard-hitting journalist who wasn’t afraid to ask tough questions and tackle controversial topics.

From there, she went on to host a number of other high-profile television shows, including “Weekend Sunrise”, “The Today Show” and “The Project”.

Lisa Wilkinson left “The Today Show” in 2017 due to a disagreement with the network over pay equity. After 10 years on the show, she requested equal pay with her male co-host, but the network refused. She ultimately decided to leave and take her talents elsewhere. Her departure sparked a national conversation about gender pay equity in the media industry.

Throughout her career, Wilkinson has received numerous awards and accolades for her work, including several Logie Awards for Most Popular TV Presenter.

What Did Lisa Wilkinson Say at the Logies?

In 2022, Wilkinson won the Logie for Outstanding News Coverage or Public Affairs Report for the Brittany Higgins interview segment on Network 10’s “The Project”.

In accepting her Logie, Lisa Wilkinson’s speech saw her thank Higgins for trusting her and “The Project” team with the story, and for changing the national conversation around allegations of sexual abuse.

“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 speech.

“And 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 — for incredibly intense sleepless weeks later.”

“…as Brittany warned me — before we went to hear her story — it 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.”

Brittany Higgins and Lisa Wilkinson attend the marie claire International Women’s Day breakfast, March 2022. Photo: Getty Images

“It belongs to a 26 year old woman’s unwavering courage,’ she continued, “it belongs to a woman who said enough, it belongs to a woman who inspired more than 100,000 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 our wonderful tight team producer Angus Llewellyn and editor Darrell Brown. Thank you for trusting “The Project”.”

Why Did Lisa Wilkinson’s Speech About Brittany Higgins Impact the Bruce Lehrmann Trial?

Following Lisa Wilkinson’s speech, Bruce Lehrmann — the Liberal staffer accused of rape by Higgins’ lawyers —argued the speech was in “contempt of court”.

According to the Judicial Commission of NSW contempt of court means to undermine the “authority, performance or dignity of the courts or those who participate in their proceedings”. In simpler terms, Wilkinson spoke highly of Higgins in her speech, which can be seen as a “contempt of court” — having the potential to persuade those taking part in the proceedings.

“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 implicit premise of [the speech] is to celebrate the truthfulness of the story she exposed,” Chief Justice Lucy McCallum — judge in the trial of Bruce Lehrmann — said at the time.

According to multiple news reports, Wilkinson had been warned by ACT director of Public Prosecutions Shane Drumgold that her speech could delay the trial if it made reference to the case. However, he reportedly didn’t want to hear the speech prior to the event, stating that prosecutors “are not speech editors”.

According to Justice Lucy McCallum at the time, the finding of guilt was “completely obliterated” in Lisa Wilkinson’s speech at the 2022 Logies.

The trial was delayed.

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