Cocaine, sex worker allegations levelled at Bruce Lehrmann by ex-TV producer

Cocaine, sex worker allegations levelled at Bruce Lehrmann by ex-TV producer

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A former Seven Network producer appointed to “babysit” Bruce Lehrmann alleges he witnessed him purchase cocaine and attempt to order sex workers to a Sydney hotel, a court has heard.

Former Spotlight producer Taylor Auerbach told the Federal Court today he was tasked with building trust and rapport with Lehrmann as a prospective interview subject.

Justice Michael Lee has been poised to deliver his final judgment as Lehrmann sues Network Ten and journalist Lisa Wilkinson for defamation over an interview with his alleged rape victim, Brittany Higgins.

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Instead, the court heard fresh evidence from Auerbach about the lead-up to a Spotlight interview in which the 28-year-old denied the rape allegation.

“I had been reappointed to be his babysitter, minder, looking after him,” he said.

Auerbach claimed he took a taxi with Lehrmann from Franca restaurant in inner-Sydney Potts Point to the Meriton Hotel in the city centre.

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“Mr Lehrmann had over dinner purchased a bag of cocaine while we were dining at Franca,” he said.

“When we got upstairs to the room he pulled that out and started to put it on a plate and then started talking to me about a prospective Spotlight story and his desire to order prostitutes to the Meriton that night.”

Auerbach said he told Lehrmann that he did not have the means to pay for the sex workers and that the potential interviewee should fund them himself.

In a text to his then-boss, Steve Jackson, he said he raised concerns over Lehrmann’s behaviour.

“I told him that Bruce was on the warpath again and that it was no anomaly,” Auerbach said.

“I think I used the words, ‘this is f—–‘.”

Bruce Lehrmann.

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Auerbach made a claim for psychological injury against Seven following the expiration of his two-year employment contract in August, he told the court in an affidavit.

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That claim was settled on confidential terms, he said.

Auerbach endured bullying and antisemitism over a significant period at Seven, his lawyer Rebekah Giles earlier told the court.

She said he would need to produce further documents to comply with a subpoena in the defamation case.

Lee said the documents might be relevant to an alleged abuse of process as well as determining the credit of witnesses, including Lehrmann.

Seven has also been told to provide a subpoena explaining why some documents had only been recently produced following further searches prompted by Auerbach’s affidavit.

Barrister Sue Chrysanthou and Lisa Wilkinson arriving at the Federal Court in Sydney on April 4.Brittany Higgins outside court.

After a successful last-minute bid by Ten, Auerbach is expected to testify that Lehrmann leaked confidential texts from Higgins to Seven in breach of what is known as the Harman undertaking.

The former Liberal staffer gained access to the private and personal texts through the abandoned criminal case against him, but the material was not tendered into evidence.

Auerbach has claimed Lehrmann supplied Seven with material on a paid golf trip to Tasmania as well as at a property rented for the ex-staffer by the network in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.

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He also said Seven paid tens of thousands of dollars to Lehrmann, including reimbursing him for “illicit drugs and prostitutes” and covering costs for expensive dinners, plane flights and accommodation.

Seven has denied Auerbach’s allegations, labelling them “false and misleading”.

Lehrmann rejects that anything sexual happened between himself and Higgins.

His criminal trial was derailed due to juror misconduct, with prosecutors dropping the charge over fears for Higgins’ mental health.

He is seeking substantial damages from Ten, claiming a report that aired on The Project in February 2021 ruined his reputation.

1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)

National Sexual Abuse and Redress Support Service 1800 211 028

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