“All the blame was falling on me”: 10 approved Lisa Wilkinson Logies speech

“All the blame was falling on me”: 10 approved Lisa Wilkinson Logies speech

Lisa Wilkinson claims she was dumped from The Project by Network 10 management following criticism of her Logies speech in the media.

She said she found out from her agent Nick Fordham that 10 was doing a “rebrand” and she was off the panel due to “brand damage”.

“I was shocked, embarrassed and deeply disappointed by (10 CEO Beverley) McGarvey’s decision to remove me from The Project,” Wilkinson said in an affidavit.

“At that time, my most recent contract as co-host of The Project had only been signed 11 months before and still had more than two years to run.”

The claims were heard today during a cross-claim against 10 over a dispute about payment of more than $700,000 in legal costs in the Bruce Lehrmann defamation case.

Wilkinson’s Logie speech of 2022 led to the criminal trial of Lehrmann in the ACT Supreme Court for the alleged sexual assault of Higgins being delayed by three months.

Wilkinson told the court Network 10 had approved her Logies speech but refused to issue a public statement to confirm this.

“My understanding was that they were putting out something that was very legally considered,” she told the court.

“(They) missed out on the exact fact I had begged them to put out something to make clear publicly the fact that they had asked me to give the speech, they had been involved in legalling that speech right up until 4:37 on the afternoon of the Logies.

“That speech had also been approved by the CEO Ms Bev McGarvey, it had also been approved by the head of Network Communications Ms Cat Donovan.

“All of them had approved the speech, but I was the one that was accused in this Daily Mail headline … me alone as derailing the rape case.”

She continued, “They said they wouldn’t waive privilege over the legal advice that they had (been) given. And so the conclusion, which you would see from any of the headlines around that time, was that the media believed that I had got up on that stage and given a speech, pretty much off the top of my head without any consideration to the legal proceedings that were going on and that was completely incorrect.

“I was being blamed for giving that speech, and all the blame was falling on me,” she said.

She said a significant number of journalists were calling 10 to ask whether or not they legalled the speech.

“They refused to give any answer to those questions.”

Asked if she was concerned about her reputation she replied, “It was being trashed in the media.”

Wilkinson also revealed she found out she was the subject of defamation proceedings in the press.

“I didn’t find out that I was even being sued until I woke up on the eighth of December (sic), and saw a photograph of myself with the words ‘Reckless indifference to the truth’. And I found out by reading the media that I was being sued,” she said.

But nobody from Network 10 had advised her until she contacted them.

Asked if she had read an affidavit from lawyer Marlia Saunders, representing 10, as to why there was a delay, Lisa Wilkinson replied, “I found it deeply unsatisfactory. And it indicated to me that I was never top of mind in Miss Saunders representation of me legally.”

Lisa Wilkinson hired her own legal representation, defamation lawyer Sue Chrysanthou, whose legal bills are now part of the cross-claim.

Tasha Smithies, Senior Litigation Counsel at Paramount Network 10, conceded under cross examination that she was shown the speech and did not tell Wilkinson not to deliver it.

“I don’t believe the advice exposed her to public criticism,” Ms Smithies said. “I believe what followed from there did.”

But she maintained both herself and Network 10 were concerned about the prospect of being found in contempt of court, and that the advice given was privileged.

“I think immediately after the judgement is given and then for an extended period of time, my view was the sub judice issue was a live issue,” Ms Smithies told the court.

“Particularly because her honour (Chief Justice McCallum) could, at any point in time, choose to do something about that.”

Wilkinson also said she was promised an interview series from 10 but nothing has yet eventuated.

“What is Bev’s plan for the ‘interview series’ I am now contracted to do?” she wrote in an affadavit.

“Who will be EPing, what is the time slot, production budget, marketing budget…what calibre of interview subject does she envisage for the three episodes that will have any kind of ratings cut-through that such a short-lived ‘series’ would justify?

Ms Wilkinson’s affidavit states that the CEO replied that she would go through Wilkinson’s agent – and that any meeting would have to be attended by 10’s legal team.

“No such meeting took place,” Ms Wilkinson said.

The case continues.

Source: Guardian Australia, ABC, news.com.au