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‘Appalled’: Seven slams Lehrmann claims

LEHRMANN CASE
Seven Network is “appalled” following allegations made in court by former producer Taylor Auerbach. Picture: NCA NewsWire / John Appleyard

Seven Network has hit back at allegations made in court by former producer Taylor Auerbach relating to expenses covered on behalf of Bruce Lehrmann ahead of his interview with Spotlight.

Mr Auerbach told the Federal Court on Thursday he was offered a promotion and a pay rise after he used a corporate credit card to purchase Thai massages for himself and the former Liberal staffer.

Mr Lehrmann has denied receiving a massage.

In a statement, which was also sent to all staff on Thursday night, Seven said the company is “appalled” by the allegations, denying any offer of a pay rise or promotion to Mr Auerbach.

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Seven Network is “appalled” following allegations made in court by former producer Taylor Auerbach. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Damian Shaw
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Lisa Wilkinson pictured as she arrives at Federal Court for the Lehrmann v Network 10 hearing. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Damian Shaw

“Seven is appalled by the allegations made in recent days. We do not condone the behaviours described in these allegations. They do not reflect the culture of Seven,” the statement said.

“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.”

The court also heard Mr Lehrmann had purchased cocaine and discussed ordering prostitutes during a trip to Sydney, where Mr Auerbach had been appointed as his “babysitter”.

“I had been reappointed to be his babysitter, minder, looking after him … building up a rapport trying to build trust and some sort of relationship with a prospective interview subject,” Mr Auerbach said.

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Bruce McWilliam told reporters he “rejected” the allegation that Mr Auerbach had been subjected to bullying and anti-Semitism. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Damian Shaw
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Seven executive Bruce McWilliam pictured as he leaves Federal Court. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Damian Shaw

He said that while at dinner Mr Lehrmann purchased drugs and later ordered prostitutes.

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

“And he began googling a series of websites to try and make that happen.

“And 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.”

A spokesman for Seven Network said the network did not reimburse Mr Lehrmann for “expenditure that has allegedly been used to pay for illegal drugs or prostitutes, and has never done so”, acknowledging the matter remains before the courts.

The media giant has also slammed Mr Auerbach’s claims he was told by his boss to delete materials relating to Mr Lehrmann from his devices in the days after the Spotlight program aired.

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Mr Auerbach told the court he was offered a promotion and pay rise after using a corporate credit card to purchase Thai massages for himself and Bruce Lehrmann. Mr Lehrmann has denied receiving a massage. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Monique Harmer
Mr Auerbach claimed he was told by his boss to delete materials relating to Mr Lehrmann from his devices in the days after the Spotlight program aired.
Mr Auerbach claimed he was told by his boss to delete materials relating to Mr Lehrmann from his devices in the days after the Spotlight program aired.

In his affidavit, Mr Auerbach claimed that lawyer Richard Keegan suggested he “look at everything” because “Ten and Lisa are not very happy about the broadcast and might come after us”.

“It might be a good idea to have a look at everything, especially the raw interview tapes’,’’ Mr Auerbach said he was told.

“I understood that this meant that I should delete any materials that could be damaging for Seven. I followed this direction and permanently deleted anything that I could find on my computer and phone at the time.”

Mr Lehrmann’s barrister Matthew Richardson SC questioned whether this was true in court on Thursday.

“Mr Keegan never said anything to you suggesting you should destroy or delete anything, did he?” Mr Richardson asked Mr Auerbach, who said he used “the words indicated in my affidavit”.

“I want to suggest he never so much as hinted that you should do anything of the kind,’’ Mr Richardson said.

“That’s completely incorrect,’’ Auerbach responded.

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Mr Auerbach claimed in court Mr Lehrmann purchased cocaine and discussed ordered prostitutes during a trip to Sydney. Picture: NCA NewsWire / John Appleyard
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Mr Auerbach also said he was appointed as Mr Lehrmann’s “babysitter” during the Sydney trip. Picture: NCA NewsWire / John Appleyard

Seven Network has denied these claims in their statement.

“Contrary to the claims reported in the media, Seven complied with all of its obligations in relation to producing documents in response to subpoenas issued to it,” the statement said.

“Seven has at no point asked anyone to delete or destroy any evidence. As previously stated, Seven did not condone or authorise the alleged payments to Mr Lehrmann referred to in the affidavits recently made public.

“The person involved admitted to the misuse of a Seven corporate card and all unauthorised expenses were immediately reimbursed. Seven has acted appropriately at all times.”