Taylor Auerbach set to give evidence



Llewellyn is Spotlight’s executive producer, while Jackson was its supervising producer.

Giles said she had written to Lehrmann’s lawyers proposing a minor variation to the subpoena to “limit production”.

David Helvadjian, one of Lehrmann’s barristers, said his instructions were to press the subpoena in its current form. He said the documents were relevant because Lehrmann’s team was “entitled to test whether or not that claim was a bona fide claim”.

“The underlying documents might be relevant to that, and so therefore it’s an issue of [Auerbach’s] credit,” Helvadjian said.

Lee replied: “It’s got to be apparently relevant to a fact in issue in the proceedings … I don’t want this to become any more of a distraction than it currently is.”

Helvadjian subsequently said he was instructed to consent to the proposed amendment.

Earlier on Thursday, Seven Network produced a raft of documents in answer to subpoenas issued by Ten last year that were re-agitated this year after Auerbach came forward.

“Is there proposed to be any explanation as to why it is that additional documents have been produced?” Lee asked Seven’s barrister, David Thomas, SC.

He suggested he might require an affidavit from “someone” at Seven as to why documents had been produced at this time and not last year.

Auerbach’s claims

In affidavits filed in court, Auerbach alleges Lehrmann provided him with more than 2300 pages of text messages between Higgins and her ex-boyfriend Ben Dillaway “on or about 18 December 2022 in Bridport, Tasmania, during a golf trip paid for by Seven”. He claims a round of golf cost $401.83.

Auerbach’s claims have yet to be tested in court and he will be cross-examined by Lehrmann’s lawyers this week.

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

Ten alleges that Auerbach’s evidence, if accepted, forms the basis of a submission that Lehrmann lied to the court. It also alleges that if Lehrmann did leak the messages he engaged in a contempt of court and abuse of process.

Higgins’ text messages had been handed over to the Australian Federal Police under a search warrant as it investigated her claim she was sexually assaulted by Lehrmann in Parliament House in March 2019 while they were working as advisers to the then Liberal defence industry minister Linda Reynolds.

Lehrmann has always maintained his innocence. His 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.

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If Lehrmann did leak the text messages, Ten alleges his conduct amounted to a contempt because he breached an implied obligation not to use the material for a purpose unrelated to his criminal trial.

Seven’s response

A Seven spokesperson said on Tuesday that the network had “never revealed its source or sources and has no intention of doing so”, and it noted “Mr Lehrmann’s court testimony last year that he was not the source”.

Auerbach has also alleged that Lehrmann received tens of thousands of dollars in perks before he agreed to sign an exclusivity deal with Seven, including $10,000 in massages and reimbursement for sex workers and illicit drugs in January 2023. Seven has denied those claims.

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