Lisa Wilkinson rejects “coaching” Brittany Higgins and failing to question her allegations

“Don’t make me sound like a cheap tabloid journalist," insists former Project host in her first day in cross examination.

In her first day on the stand in the defamation trial between Bruce Lehrmann v Network 10 / Lisa Wilkinson, the former Project host refuted a number of suggestions by Lerhmann’s counsel Matthew Richardson SC.

“I want to suggest to you that you put your pride and your ego ahead of my client’s right to a fair trial when you gave that speech,” Richardson said.

“I completely disagree,” said Lisa Wilkinson.

The Guardian reports she hit back at suggestions that she had been “captured” by her source and had no desire to “check or scrutinise anything she said”.

Richardson accused Wilkinson of being “thrilled by the riveting commercial appeal of the story that she told”.

Wilkinson responded: “Don’t make me sound like a cheap tabloid journalist, Mr Richardson.”

She also denied “coaching” Higgins in a pre-interview discussion about how to answer questions about why she didn’t initially press charges against Lehrmann. In a transcript of the lengthy discussion, Wilkinson told Higgins that she didn’t want to “put words in your mouth” but that she could talk about the culture of Parliament House when answering such questions.

Wilkinson also noted a sit down interview intended to run 1 hour “ended up going for 5 and a half hours.”

A 2022 Logies acceptance speech, which in part delayed a criminal trial, also came in for scrutiny.

“Do you take responsibility for it at all?,” the barrister asked.

“You knew, didn’t you, that you were communicating to hundreds of thousands of people that you believed in Ms Higgins’ allegations.”

“I want to suggest to you that you put your pride and your ego ahead of my client’s right to a fair trial when you gave that speech.”

Ms Wilkinson replied, “I completely disagree.”

In another exchange Mr Richardson also asked whether she had done any professional training about the laws of contempt since she started her career.

“No,” she said.

Mr Richardson asked: “Do you deny having undertaken training at Channel 10 or any previous roles?”

“Yes,” Wilkinson said.

He asked: “Is that seriously your answer?”

She said: “Yes, that’s why I had to think about it.”

In a further exchange, Wilkinson said prime time television viewers have a “short attention span” when she was asked why only part of a message from Higgins’ boss Fiona Brown was shown on the program.

“Unfortunately, Mr Richardson, the vagaries of primetime television mean that there’s a fairly short attention span that viewers have for very, very long messages. So, this was just about the confirmation around Linda Reynolds wanting to catch up with Ms Higgins and organising a meeting.”

Separately, Lisa Wilkinson was also reminded by Justice Michael Lee to stick to the questions posed by counsel and not to indulge in speeches.

“Just listen to the questions and give your truthful answer to them and don’t worry about engaging in speeches. Thank you,” Justice Michael Lee said.

Lehrmann is suing Wilkinson and her employer Network 10 over an interview with Higgins that was broadcast on The Project in 2021. He alleges the story defamed him by suggesting he raped Higgins in 2019. Lehrmann has always denied the rape allegation.

The trial continues.

Source: Guardian Australia, news.com.au