Taylor Auerbach, former Seven producer, details alleged Lehrmann expenses


Among the receipts annexed to his affidavits is a $504 meal at the Chophouse restaurant in Sydney in January 2023 including a $361 Tomahawk steak weighing 1.9 kilograms.

He claims “statements made by Seven that I was disciplined as a result of misuse of the company credit card” were false, as was Lehrmann’s claim that allegations that a Seven credit card was used to book a Thai masseuse for Lehrmann was “an untrue and bizarre story from a disgruntled ex-Network Seven producer”. Auerbach has threatened to sue Lehrmann for defamation over that statement.

Big Spender

Expenses Taylor Auerbach alleges were incurred by “me, and/or Seven directly”, for Bruce Lehrmann’s benefit

  • November 26, 2022: Sensai Thai Massage, estimated in Auberach’s affidavit at “approximately $10,315”.  
  • Dec 18, 2022: Round of golf at Barnbougle, Tasmania and related equipment. $401.83
  • Dec 18, 2022: Meal at the Bridport Hotel, Tasmania with Lehrmann, a friend, and Spotlight executive producer Mark Llewellyn. $259.00
  • January 5, 2023: Meal at Franca restaurant in Potts Point with Lehrmann. $517.97 
  • January 5, 2023: Taxi for Lehrmann from Franca to Meriton Sydney. Auerbach says in his affidavit that he recalls that “monies paid by [Lehrmann] … for illicit drugs and prostitutes that evening at the Meriton and the following evening at a brothel in Surry Hills were reimbursed to [Lehrmann] … by Seven through ‘per diems’ via invoice emailed to … [Spotlight’s] Unit Manager in the days after [his] … departure from Sydney in early January. I no longer have a copy of this invoice”.
  • January 31, 2023: Meal at Chophouse restaurant, Sydney, with Lehrmann, one of his friends, Mark Llewellyn and Spotlight’s then-supervising producer, Steve Jackson. $504. A 1.9kg Tomahawk steak was itemised on the Chophouse receipt at $361.
  • March 3 to 17, 2023: Randwick accommodation for Lehrmann. $8,115.80
  • March 17 to 24, 2023: Randwick accommodation for Lehrmann. $3,622.50

Auerbach alleges in one of his three affidavits that Seven paid for a taxi for Lehrmann from Franca restaurant in Potts Point to Meriton Sydney on January 5 last year and that money Lehrmann paid “for illicit drugs and prostitutes that evening at the Meriton and the following evening at a brothel in Surry Hills were reimbursed to [him] … by Seven”.

He claims this was done “through ‘per diems’ via invoice emailed to … [Spotlight’s] Unit Manager” after Lehrmann left Sydney in early January.

“I no longer have a copy of this invoice,” he says in one affidavit.

Auerbach also claims that receipts for Sensai Thai Massage, which he booked for Lehrmann in Elizabeth Bay months earlier on November 26, 2022, totalled “approximately $10,315”.

Text messages annexed to Auerbach’s affidavit suggest he subsequently texted an unknown party connected to the massage transactions and said: “Can you refund credit card and I give you cash”.

Samantha Maiden, political reporter at news.com.au, had previously reported that “two Thai masseuses were booked – one for Mr Lehrmann and another for a Seven employee”, later reported to be Auerbach, in the early hours of Saturday, November 26, 2022.

“The total amount paid in one night for Mr Lehrmann and the Seven staffer appears on the Spotlight credit card as $2940 in multiple transactions of $1000,” Maiden’s report said.

Auerbach also claims that Spotlight’s executive producer, Mark Llewellyn, was present on several occasions when Lehrmann allegedly discussed leaking, and did leak, confidential information from his criminal case. Ten has alleged that disclosing this information would amount to a contempt of court by Lehrmann. The allegations have not been put to Llewellyn in court.

Auerbach alleges that on one occasion Llewellyn took photos of a laptop screen which showed confidential messages which had been obtained under compulsion for Lehrmann’s criminal trial, which could not be used for other purposes.

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According to one of Auerbach’s affidavits, “Mark Llewellyn’s image which is reflected from the laptop screen is visible on the photographs. I recall that Mark told me he was going to meet Bruce that day for Bruce to give us a ‘digital dump’. Mr Llewellyn then sent the photographs to me by WhatsApp in late May or early June 2023 which I saved.”

Auerbach alleges the photos were taken in March 2023 at a Randwick apartment which had been rented for Lehrmann in Auerbach’s name.

He also alleges Lehrmann accompanied him and Llewellyn to Seven’s offices in Sydney’s Martin Place, and Llewellyn asked Auerbach to help Lehrmann access a photocopier, which was used to copy material from his criminal case.

The Higgins texts

On Tuesday, Collins alleged evidence before the judge would suggest just 17 of the 2321 pages of Higgins and Dillaway’s texts were ultimately tendered in the criminal trial, and that if Lehrmann had leaked them to Seven he had acted in breach of an implied obligation not to use material obtained during the criminal trial process for a collateral purpose.

Brittany Higgins outside the Federal Court in November last year.

Brittany Higgins outside the Federal Court in November last year.Credit: Kate Geraghty

Asked in court last year if he had given any documents to Seven as contemplated under the exclusive interview deal signed in April last year, Lehrmann said: “No, I just gave an interview.”

Ten is seeking to argue that Auerbach’s evidence, if accepted, raises doubts about Lehrmann’s credibility and should affect Lee’s assessment of his evidence as a whole in the defamation case.

Collins alleged that this conduct, if the court found that it had occurred, would also amount to an abuse of process and contempt of court by Lehrmann because distributing those “intimate” and “private messages … can only have been calculated to put pressure on witnesses” before the defamation case. Higgins gave evidence in the defamation trial for Ten.

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Lehrmann claims the Higgins interview on The Project defamed him by suggesting he was guilty of raping his then-colleague Higgins in Parliament House in March 2019.

He has always maintained his innocence. Lehrmann’s ACT Supreme Court criminal trial for sexual assault was aborted in 2022 owing to juror misconduct and a second trial did not proceed owing to concerns about Higgins’ mental health.

The rental deal

The court has heard Seven spent about $100,000 paying Lehrmann’s rent for a year to April 2024 as part of its exclusive interview deal.

Auerbach alleges Seven also paid for weeks of rent before that deal was signed, and claims that accommodation in Randwick totalling just under $12,000 was provided for Lehrmann’s benefit between March 3 and March 24 last year.

Seven’s response

Seven said in a statement on Tuesday after the court hearing that it “strongly rejected the false and misleading claims”.

“The claims in the affidavits are being presented unchallenged,” a Seven Network spokesperson said.

“Seven has never revealed its source or sources and has no intention of doing so. Seven notes Mr Lehrmann’s court testimony last year that he was not the source. Furthermore, Seven did not condone or authorise the alleged payments to Mr Lehrmann referred to in the affidavits.

“As has been previously reported, the person involved admitted to the misuse of a Seven corporate card and all unauthorised expenses were immediately reimbursed. Seven notes that these proceedings remain before the court.”

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