What we learned from Lisa Wilkinson's cross examination so far.

Lisa Wilkinson is on the stand in Federal Court this week.

She is the second respondent to the defamation suit brought by Bruce Lehrmann. He is suing Network Ten and Wilkinson based on the February 2021 interview on The Project in which Brittany Higgins alleged she was sexually assaulted inside Parliament House while she worked there.

Higgins alleges Lehrmann sexually assaulted her in the office of then Defence Industry Minister Linda Reynolds in the early hours of Saturday March 23, 2019. Lehrmann has always strenuously denied this.

A number of people have testified so far, including Higgins herself and The Project's producer. Now Wilkinson is in the witness box, in what is expected to be a two-day evidence session.

Here's everything we've learned so far. 

Lisa Wilkinson's 2022 Logies speech was played out in court.

Lehrmann's barrister, Matthew Richardson SC, suggested that Wilkinson knew when she said the words she chose in her speech that people would know she believed Higgins' allegation.

Wilkinson replied: "I was celebrating her courage. I can't be in the minds of the audience... If you can be in the minds of the entire nation — that's a superpower I don't possess."

Wilkinson said she disagreed with the suggestion her speech was "reckless and ill advised".

"I did appropriate checks. I had sought advice before I got up on that stage. I take responsibility for those words, I spoke them."

Richardson said: "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."

Wilkinson replied: "I completely disagree."


Lisa Wilkinson was accused of being "entirely captured" by Higgins, and not challenging the allegations in question.

Wilkinson denied she was "entirely captured" by her source, Higgins, after barrister Richardson suggested Wilkinson was "thrilled by the riveting commercial appeal of the story that she told".

Richardson continued: "I want to suggest to you that you were completely committed to supporting Ms Higgins? You had no intention of challenging her on anything she said."

Wilkinson said "I totally disagree," adding: "Don't make me sound like a cheap tabloid journalist, Mr Richardson."

Lisa Wilkinson raised "alarm bells" about Higgins' phone claim.

Wilkinson said she was concerned about a claim raised by Higgins and escalated it to senior members of her team.

The claim was Higgins saying her phone had been completely wiped. Wilkinson described the claim by Higgins that the federal government could remotely wipe phones as "curious" and "strange".

"I was trying to get to the bottom of the phone situation, so alarm bells were ringing for me," she said under cross-examination. She denied the barrister's suggestion this should have made her question Higgin's reliability, instead saying the claim made her see Higgins as a "very scared young woman".

Wilkinson said she had spoken to The Project producer about the phone issue, but was told it should be ignored as it raised "unanswerable questions".

She also escalated her concerns to two other senior members of the team, Wilkinson told the court.

Lisa Wilkinson said 80 hours' notice was "fair" for Lehrmann re The Project interview.

On her second day under cross-examination, Wilkinson was asked about the amount of notice time she and The Project producers gave Lehrmann. They gave Lehrmann 80 hours' notice that the interview with Higgins would be going live, an interview where she spoke about her allegation of sexual assault. Lehrmann was not identified nor named in the broadcast.


"I believed 80 hours before broadcast to be a very fair and reasonable time for Mr Lehrmann to respond to us," Wilkinson said.

It was revealed in court that attempts had been made to contact him on the previous Friday afternoon with a deadline of 10am Monday.

Lisa Wilkinson was questioned over how identifiable Lehrmann was from The Project's interview.

Wilkinson noted that Network 10's legal team had provided advice for the interview, regarding this subject matter.

"I left those decisions to others more qualified than me to decide," Wilkinson said. "I knew that the Channel Ten legal department was across this story, and I trusted that it was appropriate for those details to be in there."

 Richardson suggested The Project made no genuine effort to get a response from Lehrmann.

"You were going through the motions ... just to cover yourself off for defamation," he said.

Wilkinson disagreed.

With AAP.

Mamamia is a charity partner of RizeUp Australia, a Queensland-based organisation that helps women and families move on after the devastation of domestic violence. If you would like to support their mission to deliver life-changing and practical support to these families when they need it most, you can donate here.

This article was originally published on December 14, and has since been updated with new information.

Feature Image: AAP.