Taylor Auerbach takes to the stand in Bruce Lehrmann trial

Taylor Auerbach

Seven has responded, saying it is “appalled by the allegations.”

Taylor Auerbach has taken to the stand in Bruce Lehrmann‘s defamation case against Network 10 and Lisa Wilkinson, and been quizzed about his claims that he was asked to “delete any materials that could be damaging for Seven”.

Yesterday, Justice Michael Lee was meant to hand down his judgment. Instead, 10 won a bid to reopen the case earlier this week, and Auerbach, a former producer for Seven’s Spotlight program, took to the stand instead.

After some back and forth about the submission of subpoenaed documents in the morning session, at 2:15pm, the court returned to hear Auerbach’s evidence.  

Detailing what happened when he attended the Meriton hotel in January 2023, Taylor Auerbach told the court about Lehrmann buying a bag of cocaine.

“When we got upstairs to the room, he pulled it out and started to put it on a plate. He then started talking to me about a prospective Spotlight story and his desire to order prostitutes to the Meriton that night, and began googling a series of websites to try and make that happen,” Auerbach said.

“During that conversation, he agreed to be in a Spotlight interview, as long as we didn’t ask him about what happened on the night in Canberra.”

When asked what his response was, Auerbach said he was “taken aback.”

Recounting a text exchange with his boss Steve Jackson, Auerbach said that Lehrmann was “on the warpath again”, and that “this is fucked.”

Auerbach claimed Lehrmann put invoices into Seven for per diems to cover the costs of the drugs and sex workers.

Auerbach was also asked about his claims that he had been indirectly asked to “delete any materials that could be damaging for Seven” by lawyer Richard Keegan in the days ahead of the Spotlight interviews going to air, and that executive producer, Mark Llewellyn, suggested that he “wipe all contact” with Lehrmann ahead of the interviews airing. 

“Mr Keegan never said anything to you suggesting you should destroy or delete anything, did he?” Lehrmann’s barrister Matthew Richardson SC asked.

Auerbach pointed back to “the words indicated in my affidavit”, with Richardson following up and suggesting “he [Keegan] never so much as hinted that you should do anything of the kind.”

“That’s completely incorrect,” Auerbach said.

On Thursday night, Seven responded to the claims made in court with a spokesperson saying the network was “appalled by the allegations made in recent days. We do not condone the behaviours described in these allegations,” making it clear, “They do not reflect the culture of Seven.”

“Seven did not offer a promotion or pay rise to Mr Auerbach in November 2022, nor did it do so at any time after that.

“Seven did not reimburse Bruce Lehrmann for expenditure that has allegedly been used to pay for illegal drugs or prostitutes, and has never done so. Seven notes the matter remains before the courts,” the statement concluded.

Auerbach will return to the stand on Friday.

Lehrmann provided two interviews for Spotlight in 2023. A bombshell series of affidavits from Taylor Auerbach this week allege that the show was provided with thousands of pages of confidential documents that Lehrmann had in an “e-brief” for his criminal trial, but which were not tendered in court.

Whilst the company’s decision to pay for Lehrmann’s rent in Sydney had already been widely reported, the affidavits include new allegations that Seven paid for “perks” including reimbursement for illicit drugs and prostitutes, $10,300 on Thai massages, several expensive dinners, and a $401.83 round of golf in Tasmania for Lehrmann.

See Also: Copied documents and financial perks: Lehrmann judgment delayed as new evidence emerges

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