Lisa Wilkinson’s Logies appearance on Sunday night caused a rape trial delay, but months ago another journalist showed how a speech on the same subject should be done.
The story of Brittany Higgins’ alleged rape was broken in February 2021 – by Samantha Maiden online and on Channel 10’s The Project by Wilkinson.
Maiden and Wilkinson both won awards for their work, but their acceptance speeches were in marked contrast.
Wilkinson’s thanking of Higgins for her ‘courage’ caused the high profile rape trial to be postponed, but Maiden’s made it clear ‘this is a matter before the courts and … there is a man who has pleaded not guilty’.
Lisa Wilkinson is pictured holding the Logie award she won last Sunday. Her speech at the awards caused a rape trial to be postponed and raised concerns of contempt
In June 2021, Maiden won an Our Watch award, last November she won a Kennedy award and in February she won the prestigious Gold Walkley.
She hadn’t expected to win and didn’t prepare a speech, but was very careful in speaking off the cuff when her name was called out.
Maiden’s speech was a model of what and, more importantly, what not to say when accepting an award for story that resulted in a high profile court case.
She said she had to say something ‘that everyone in this room knows, which is that this is a matter before the courts and that there is a man who has pleaded not guilty.
‘And as flawed and imperfect as the justice system is, I believe in it and I don’t want to say anything that would impact on that,’ she said.
Maiden said she was astonished at the impact the story of Ms Higgins’ alleged rape by Bruce Lehrmann – who has pleaded not guilty – had.
‘I still remember her sitting in my lounge room and saying “Is anyone going to care about this story?”
‘Well, I think this award tonight tells you that people did care,’ she said.
Samantha Maiden is pictured giving a speech after she won the Gold Walkley award for her coverage of Brittany Higgins’ rape allegations
‘So I’ll try and say something that is a little less emotional. I’d like to thank our lawyers.’
This was followed by a huge roar of approval from the assembled journalists in the room. Maiden then thanked her bosses at News, her family, friends and colleagues.
‘There is one other person I’d like to thank … Brittany Higgins for trusting me to tell her story. I’m so grateful,’ she said.
Like Maiden, Wilkinson also thought she would not win the award she was nominated for, but prepared a speech anyway.
Lisa Wilkinson (left) is pictured with Brittany Higgins. The trial of Ms Higgins’ accused rapist has been delayed because of Wilkinson’s speech after winning a Logie award
Lisa Wilkinson is pictured at the Logie awards last weekend, where she gave a controversial speech
‘I don’t think I will get it because it is managed by a rival network,’ she told Shane Drumgold, the ACT’s Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) on June 15.
The Project host was meeting the DPP to discuss her evidence at Lehrmann’s trial.
In his notes, Mr Drumgold recorded that ‘At conclusion Lisa was asked if she had any questions.’
She told him she was nominated for a Logie and read the first line of her speech but was stopped by the DPP who said ‘We are not speech editors.
Former political staffer Brittany Higgins (right) is pictured on an aeroplane with her partner David Sharaz
‘We have no power to approve or prohibit any public comment that is the role of the court.’
Mr Drumgold did, however, advise, that Lehrmann’s legal team ‘can reinstitute a stay application in the event of publicity’ related to the speech.
The speech backfired spectacularly, with ACT Supreme Court Chief Justice Lucy McCallum delaying Lehrmann’s trial that was due to start next week.
On Thursday, the trial was rescheduled to start on October 4. Justice McCallum said she had ‘robbed Peter to pay Paul’ to ensure the trial would go ahead this year.
‘The publicity this week has focused sharply on the very fact that was being overlooked, that is a man is facing trial for a serious offence, and that he is entitled to the presumption of innocence,’ she said.