Journalist Lisa Wilkinson has accused Network Ten of failing to publicly clarify her controversial Logies speech on Brittany Higgins’ alleged rape had been cleared by top executives and legal counsel.

The 2022 speech led to Wilkinson being widely condemned in the media after the rape trial of ex-Liberal staffer Bruce Lehrmann’s was delayed as a result.

Wilkinson told a Federal Court defamation trial on Tuesday that she understood her employer’s statements at the time had been “very legally considered”.

Lisa Wilkinson has accused Ten of failing to publicly clarify her Brittany Higgins Logies speech was cleared. ( Flavio Brancaleone / Sydney Morning Herald)

That was despite her “begging them” to clarify their role in the speech, she said.

“They had asked me to make that speech, they had been involved in legalling that speech right up until … the afternoon of the Logies,” she said.

Wilkinson said she was “trashed” by the media following the speech and accused of derailing the trial of Lehrmann, who was accused of raping Higgins in Parliament House in 2019.

The speech resulted in the ACT Supreme Court proceedings being postponed to protect Lehrmann’s right to a fair trial.

“The media believed that I had gotten up on that stage and given a speech pretty much off the top of my head,” Wilkinson said.

“That was completely incorrect. I was being blamed for giving that speech and all the blame was falling on me.”

Lehrmann is suing Ten and Wilkinson for defamation over a February 2021 report on The Project that aired Higgins’ rape claims.

Lisa Wilkinson giving her speech at The Logies. Lisa Wilkinson dedicated award to Brittany Higgins (Nine)

Wilkinson has launched a cross-claim against the broadcaster to recoup legal costs after retaining her own legal representation.

The journalist was cross-examined by Ten lawyer Robert Dick SC on Tuesday, when he put to her that her motivation for retaining a separate lawyer was to protect or advance her public image.

“It was becoming very apparent to me that Channel 10 … (was) conflicted when it came to representing me in these defamation proceedings,” Wilkinson replied.

She said she was not informed by Ten about the legal action against them and had to find out by reading the media.

“I found it deeply unsatisfactory,” Wilkinson said.

But Logan’s lawyer, Patrick Schmidt, told the hearing that his client was unaware of the order.

Bruce Lehrmann is seen entering the courts, outside the Federal Court of Australia, Monday 12th of December 2023.
Bruce Lehrmann is seen entering the courts, outside the Federal Court of Australia, Monday 12th of December 2023. (Dion Georgopoulos)

“While his actions were not intentional, they were reckless,” he said.

Justice Michael Lee previously ordered Logan to appear to explain his actions before a decision was made on whether to charge him with contempt of court.

But he failed to appear as required on Tuesday, when Schmidt said his client was flying in from Melbourne and was running late.

Justice Lee called Logan’s non-appearance “unacceptable” and said he would refer the matter to court authorities for the commencement of contempt proceedings.

In a video played to the court, Logan told his viewers that YouTube had removed the content from his “Feminism Debunked” channel because it was “ran (sic) by feminists”.

He urged people to watch the videos on alternative platforms.

Logan had been diagnosed with a range of mental health issues and was “of low intelligence”, the court heard.

The defamation proceedings brought by Lehrmann, which ran for 22 days, were live-streamed on the Federal Court YouTube page and were at some points watched by thousands of viewers.

Lehrmann has always denied any sexual contact occurred with Higgins and his criminal trial was derailed by juror misconduct.

Support is available from the National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service at 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732)

National Sexual Abuse and Redress Support Service 1800 211 028

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