Lisa Wilkinson has been spotted at Brisbane Airport heading home after making a keynote speech at an International Women’s Day event.
The former Project co-host cut a stylish figure in a black buttoned dress and white sneakers as she strolled through the airport solo on Friday afternoon.
She rolled her suitcase through the terminal with her boarding pass in her hand while chatting on her phone with a serious expression on her face.
She remained on her phone as she checked in and went through the security gates for her flight home back to Sydney.
Wilkinson would have wandered past copies of her biography – which were on sale at the airport newsagent for 30 per cent off.
Earlier her biggest fans braved the rain in designer outfits to watch the former TV host rave about her career and year-old book – in a remote pub underneath the pokie machines.
Lisa Wilkinson was seen at Brisbane Airport preparing to fly home to Sydney on Friday
Wilkinson, 63, has been notably absent from the limelight since she stepped down as host of The Project last year, following a tumultuous 2022 that saw her slammed over her Logie acceptance speech for her interview with Brittany Higgins.
She is now being sued for defamation by Ms Higgins’ alleged rapist Bruce Lehrmann over that same interview. He strenuously denies sexually assaulting Ms Higgins in Parliament House in 2019.
The veteran journalist has hired her own legal team to help fight the lawsuit and convince a judge that Ms Higgins’ allegations are true, and that her TV interview was therefore not defamatory.
In the meantime, the former television host is slowly inching her started inching her way back into the spotlight – namely, as a keynote speaker at a ‘low-key’ business luncheon on Friday afternoon, to celebrate International Women’s Day.
The venue for her triumphant return was the Eatons Hill Hotel – a lesser-known pub and function centre about 25 minutes north of Brisbane, which has a reputation for NRL brawls and rough crowds.
Wilkinson was in Brisbane to give a keynote speech at a International Women’s Day event
Her biography was 30 per cent off in the airport newsgency in Brisbane
Nevertheless, the sold-out event set patrons back $140 each. Tickets included a two-course lunch, drinks, and a lengthy networking event after Wilkinson’s two-hour speech.
A security guard stood out the front of the function room, ahead of the ticket collectors, questioning anyone who looked even slightly out of place.
One fan held a copy of Wilkinson’s 2021 memoir, It Wasn’t Meant To Be This Way, as she told organisers she didn’t have a ticket to the event. She asked for an autograph instead, but was turned away.
In the room directly above the function space where Wilkinson’s fans talked excitedly about what to expect during the exclusive event, middle-aged and elderly men in shorts and T-shirts held sat by the pokies holding cold schooners.
An ad for the luncheon said Wilkinson would spend the two-hour session illuminating her fans about ‘how a young girl from Sydney’s western suburbs came to be such a force in Australian media and our cultural life’.
The event blurb was eerily similar to a speech Wilkinson gave at another International Women’s Day function last year, which was hosted by Marie Claire at a ritzy hotel Sydney’s CBD, and included Ms Higgins as a guest speaker.
At that event, Wilkinson regaled how she was a girl from Campbelltown in Sydney’s western suburbs who applied for a job as an editorial assistant at Dolly, and became the magazine’s editor at 19 with no qualifications.
Wilkinson has enjoyed a 40-year career in media and now makes an eye-watering seven-figure salary. Despite her impressive CV, she claimed she ‘doesn’t know’ how it all happened.
During her interview with Ms Higgins on The Project in 2021, the former parliamentary staffer alleged she was raped by ‘a male colleague’ in Parliament House two years prior.
Lisa Wilkinson looked solemn as she spoke on her phone while waiting for the flight home
The former Project star remained on her phone for much of period spent at the airport
Mr Lehrmann wasn’t named during the TV show nor was he publicly identified as Ms Higgins’ alleged rapist until August 2021, when he was formally charged with sexual assault.
He pleaded not guilty and continues to maintain his innocence.
According to a statement of claim filed in the Federal Court on February 7, Lehrmann will allege Channel 10 and Wilkinson were ‘recklessly indifferent to the truth or falsity’ when the allegations against him were made.
Specifically, it will be alleged Wilkinson ‘was seeking to exploit the false allegations of sexual assault as made by Higgins for her own personal and professional gain’.
Lehrmann, a former political staffer, strenuously denies having any sexual contact with Ms Higgins.
Channel 10’s lawyers at Thomson Geer lodged papers stating they would represent Wilkinson; however, new papers lodged less than a day later said the arrangement had been terminated.
Federal Court documents indicated Wilkinson would instead be represented by Gillis Delaney Lawyers and its partner Anthony Jefferies.
She has also hired top defamation barrister Sue Chrysanthou. It is understood Wilkinson will be funding the legal team herself.
Lisa Wilkinson wore along buttoned-up black dress which was teamed with white sneakers
Wilkinson was a guest speaker at an event at the Eatons Hill Hotel on Friday before flying home later