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Lehrmann on ‘warpath’, Seven producer tells court

As part of contempt of court allegations, a former Seven producer claimed Bruce Lehrmann bought drinks and considered bringing prostitutes into a hotel paid for on the network’s dime.

user iconNaomi Neilson 05 April 2024 Corporate Counsel
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In the lead-up to the controversial interview Lehrmann gave to Spotlight, producer and journalist Taylor Auerbach said he was tasked with “babysitting” the former Liberal staffer, which included taking him to dinner at Potts Point restaurant, Franca.

He said that the night in Sydney was meant to build a “rapport” and a relationship “with a perspective interview subject”.

Appearing before the Federal Court on Thursday (4 April), Auerbach alleged Lehrmann bought cocaine while they were at dinner and expressed a desire to “order prostitutes” to a CBD hotel.


Seven had put Lehrmann up at the hotel for what he said was to “come down to Sydney to unwind”, Auerbach added.

After Lehrmann’s alleged “bender” in Hobart, Auerbach said Seven agreed to expense him for his time in Sydney.

He added that Lehrmann was on a “warpath”.

When the interview came up, Auerbach said Lehrmann agreed to do it “as long as we didn’t ask him what happened on the night in Canberra” when he was alleged to have raped Brittany Higgins.

A criminal trial was abandoned due to juror misconduct, and Lehrmann continues to maintain his innocence.

Auerbach said he was “taken aback”.

“It jumped out at me as quite concerning, so I put it to him I would have to ask him hard questions,” Auerbach told the court.

A few months later, during another meeting, Auerbach alleged Lehmann handed over a stack of documents relating to the criminal proceedings, and the two went to Seven’s offices to have them photocopied.

Auerbach said the “one thing” he remembered seeing among the stack of documents were “text messages from Higgins”.

The producer also claimed he was sent further documents from Lehrmann on two separate occasions, in Sydney and Tasmania.

During a hearing earlier this week, counsel for Network Ten, Dr Matthew Collins, said the text messages were among material that would indicate Lehrmann was allegedly in contempt of court.

He alleged Lehrmann was under an implied undertaking not to use the documents outside of the criminal trial.

“It was an outrageous contempt of court, furthered by him giving instructions which must have been wrong to solicitors and to senior counsel,” Dr Collins said at the time.

During a cross-examination on Thursday, Lehrmann’s counsel, Matthew Richardson, accused Auerbach of lying about receiving the documents and appeared in court “to humiliate Lehrmann”.

Richardson questioned Auerbach on his dispute with Seven after the network did not renew his contract. And Richardson accused him of “hating” the network for sabotaging his position at Sky News.

The court was told Auerbach was allegedly let go by Sky News for distributing an image of a partially naked woman to media.

“I suggest you are here today to do as much damage to your former employer and former colleagues as you can?” Richardson said.

“I strongly disagree,” Auerbach responded.

The hearing continues.