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Diggers and Dealers delegate faces court over alleged indecent assault on WA journalist

Kahlil Fraser Campbell enters Kalgoorlie Courthouse ahead of his trial over the alleged incident at a mining conference last year. (ABC Goldfields-Esperance: Robert Koenig-Luck)

The Kalgoorlie Magistrates Court has heard a 30-year-old man made repeated crude comments towards a female journalist before allegedly indecently assaulting her during last year's Diggers and Dealers Mining Conference.

Kahlil Fraser Campbell is alleged to have indecently assaulted Kalgoorlie Miner deputy editor Amber Lilley during an evening function at the Western Australian School of Mines (WASM) on August 2 last year.

Ms Lilley went public with her allegations a week later, writing in the Miner and The West Australian that her alleged experience was evidence of the need for further cultural reform in WA's resources industry.

Mr Campbell has denied the allegation and contested accounts of the night in question in court. 

Ms Lilley told the court she countered Mr Campbell alongside her friend Matthew Burns and another person, about 7.30pm during a sundowner event at WASM's Graduates Hall.

She told the court Mr Campbell approached the group and introduced himself and started making conversation.

Ms Lilley said Mr Campbell proceeded to say: "I have a rager over you in those boots. They really get me going".

She told the court the conversation continued as Mr Burns left the pair to get another drink.

Amber Lilley says Mr Campbell made several crude comments before indecently assaulting her on August 2. (Supplied)

She told the court Mr Campbell spoke about his job before saying: "I am the boss, most people call me daddy. You could find out why later if you want to".

Ms Lilley said she told Mr Campbell "no thanks", grabbed another person she knew to act as a buffer and left with her friends to get another drink.

She told the court that after that Mr Campbell walked directly behind her, grabbed her right buttock and squeezed, holding his hand in place for several seconds.

Ms Lilley told the court she did not immediately remonstrate with Mr Campbell as she felt vulnerable, uncomfortable and did not want to make a scene at a work event.

She said Mr Campbell approached her at Kalgoorlie's Gold Bar nightclub about 2am the following morning and hugged her.

Ms Lilley told the court she hugged him back to avoid making a scene.

Ms Lilley made a formal statement to police on August 8, signing off on it on August 9, the same date her article detailing the allegations was published.

Mr Campbell was charged with unlawful and indecent assault a week later.

Defence lawyer Shane Naughton (left) told the court that Mr Campbell attempted a joke that fell flat. (ABC Goldfields-Esperance: Robert Koenig-Luck)

Comments misinterpreted, defence says

Defence counsel Shane Naughton repeatedly challenged Ms Lilley's recollection of events and told the court Mr Campbell had said "most blokes would see those boots and get excited".

He told the court that Mr Campbell had been referencing a satirical piece published about the mining industry's "strange infatuation" with RM Williams boots.

While Ms Lilley did not dispute Mr Campbell's reference to the piece, she maintained he had continued on with the repeated sexualised and crude remarks towards her. 

Mr Naughton also suggested Ms Lilley had failed to conclusively identify whether it was Mr Campbell who had assaulted her, to which Ms Lilley said he was the only person standing directly behind her at the time.

In his own testimony, Mr Campbell rejected the suggestion he had groped Ms Lilley, telling the court he had touched her on the hip in an effort to move past her and through the crowd to get to the facility's toilets.

While describing his comments to Ms Lilley as "crass", he denied using the term "rager" and said it was an attempt at humour that failed to land.

Ms Lilley also rejected suggestions that she had been pressured to file a police complaint because of the policies of Seven West Media, the Miner's parent company.

She told the court she had already been considering going to the police before writing her account of the events.

Magistrate Matthew Holgate has reserved his decision and the parties are due to return to court on April 5.

Mr Campbell's bail was renewed until then.

Editors Note 23/03/2023: This story has been updated to better clarify the proceedings in court.

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