Brittany Higgins: Trial adjourned after Lisa Wilkinson Logis speech

The judge hearing the case of a man accused of raping former Liberal employee Brittany Higgins has made a major ruling.

The trial of the man accused of raping Brittany Higgins has been postponed due to Lisa Wilkinson’s “extraordinary” acceptance speech by Logies.

Bruce Lehrmann pleaded not guilty to the rape of Higgins at the Houses of Parliament in 2019.

He was due to stand trial in the ACT Supreme Court on Monday, June 27th.

But lawyers representing Mr Lehrmann were successful in their motion to stay the trial after the publicity that surrounded Ms Wilkinson’s speech.

ACT Chief Justice Lucy McCallum said her decision was delivered “through her teeth,” warning that the line between indictment and guilty plea was “blurred.”

“Recent publicity, in my opinion, changes the picture because of its immediacy, intensity, and ability to blur the important distinction between an accusation that remains untested by law and an allegation that was accepted by a jury that delivered a correct verdict in accordance with the law. evidence,” she told the court.

Ms. Wilkinson is expected to be called as a witness when the trial begins.

The court learned that Ms Wilkinson had received a “clear and proper” warning during the June 15 pre-trial hearing that the defense could apply for a stay if publicity increased.

At the time, she offered to read a speech she had prepared for Logies (noting that she did not think she would win), but was stopped when the prosecution stated that they were not “speech editors”.

Earlier, defense lawyer Stephen Whybrow said that the speech of the host of the project “should not have been delivered.”

Mr Whybrow said there were more than 800,000 searches on Monday alone in relation to Ms Wilkinson’s speech.

He also noted the reaction on Twitter and Instagram, as well as in the radio program and other news outlets, as evidence of scrutiny ahead of the trial.

He said that his client did not want to drag out the proceedings.

“He (Lermann) wants to get it done, but he wants a fair trial,” Mr Whybrow said.

ACT Public Prosecution Director Shane Drumgold argued that Logies’ speech was “an eruption of emotion” and was not a significant departure from Ms. Wilkinson’s previous comments.

“Shouldn’t good journalism include paying attention to the impact of your reporting on criminal proceedings and remembering to put in the magic word supposedly?” Judge McCallum replied.

Counsel said the fear was that Ms Wilkinson’s speech and social media posts, combined with a radio broadcast with Jonesy and Amanda – so close to trial – would affect jurors’ impartiality.

Toward the end of the hearing, Mr. Drumgold noted that the prosecution could seek an injunction for Ms. Higgins and Ms. Wilkinson, as well as radio hosts Amanda Keller and Brendan Jones, which could prevent them from speaking publicly about the case.

Judge McCallum criticized the press for “blurring” the line between accusation and guilt.

“The implicit premise (of Lisa Wilkinson’s performances) is to celebrate the veracity of the story she revealed,” she said.

But she told the court she made a mistake by withdrawing her application for a ban in order to prevent further publication of the case.

“I trusted the press… you were right and I was wrong,” she told the court.

She added to concerns about the “seamless elimination” of the stories of Grace Thame, whose abuser was convicted and served time in prison, and Ms. Higgins, whose allegations have yet to be tested in a criminal trial.

“Grace Thame spoke about her experience after a man was convicted and served a prison sentence,” she said.

“[Theim’s]important contribution to the legal field was that he said, ‘The jury knows what he did, the public knows what he did, but I can’t talk about it because of the law that forbids me to reveal myself.’

“Miss Higgins is in the same category. And it’s not,” Judge McCallum said.

“At the moment it does not fit into this category. That’s what really bothers me in the last round.”

Earlier this year, Judge McCallum warned “bluntly” that the trial could be delayed or not proceed at all.

“A man has been charged with a very serious offense, this offense can only be tried by a jury,” she said in the ACT Supreme Court.

“Contempt of court laws are well known in this country.

“Statements made before a criminal court that could interfere with the administration of justice and, in particular, the ability of the accused to obtain a fair trial, risk being contempt of court.”

She said she “strongly” urged people to be careful.

“If I could put it more bluntly, the more people talking about this case, the higher the risk that the prosecution will be suspended,” she said.

It is not yet clear when the trial will take place. The case will return to court on Thursday.

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