Bruce Lehrmann: Federal Court publishes affidavit detailing Seven Network pa...

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Published Time: 02.04.2024 - 22:01:51 Modified Time: 02.04.2024 - 22:01:51

Mr Lehrmann later faced a criminal trial in the ACT Supreme Court, which was abandoned after juror misconduct, leaving no findings against him and clearing the way for his defamation action. Bruce Lehrmann, Taylor Auerbach

Mr Lehrmann later faced a criminal trial in the ACT Supreme Court, which was abandoned after juror misconduct, leaving no findings against him and clearing the way for his defamation action.

Mr Auerbach's affidavit published by the Federal Court details multiple payments in late 2022 and early 2023.

He said that over two days in January 2023, money Mr Lehrmann allegedly paid for illicit drugs and to engage sex workers was reimbursed to him "by Seven through 'per diems' … in the days after [Mr Lehrmann's] departure from Sydney in early January".

"I no longer have a copy of this invoice," Mr Auberbach said.

As early as November 2022, while Mr Lehrmann was still facing one count of sexual assault in the ACT Supreme Court, Mr Auerbach claims Mr Lehrmann and his friend John MacGowan received massages worth more than $10,000, at the expense of the Seven Network.

Mr Lehrmann has denied receiving a massage at the time, and said the story was "untrue and rather bizarre".

During the defamation case late last year, the Federal Court heard the Seven Network covered a year's worth of Mr Lehrmann's accommodation, totalling more than $100,000.

Mr Auerbach claims prior to that lease, a property in Randwick was also rented in his name for Mr Lehrmann to live in for three weeks in March last year, at a cost of almost $12,000.

Other payments Mr Auerbach lists include meals at multiple Sydney restaurants, including a $361 tomahawk steak at Chophouse, and expenses incurred during a golf trip to Tasmania to play at the prestigious Barnbougle golf complex.

Its two courses are ranked by Australian Golf Digest among the top 10 courses in Australia.

With the finish line in sight, the Federal Court has provided another twist in Bruce Lehrmann's defamation case against Network Ten after the broadcaster won its bid to reopen the case and put fresh evidence before the court.

Mr Auerbach says these payments were made either by the network, or him personally, and does not specify who paid for what.

The claims in his affidavit are untested, and he is expected to face cross-examination when he testifies in Mr Lehrmann's revived defamation case tomorrow.

Network Ten succeeded in a last-minute application to reopen its case yesterday, to present the fresh evidence to the court, despite opposition from Mr Lehrmann's lawyers.

Justice Michael Lee was due to deliver his judgment in the case tomorrow, but that has now been delayed, though he is optimistic he can still deliver a judgment next week.

Network Ten's reason for reviving the case related to questions over how the Seven Network obtained certain material for the program.

This included an audio recording of a conversation between Ms Higgins and the Network Ten team ahead of her interview, and a lengthy extract of text messages between Ms Higgins and her former partner.

The Federal Court heard the material was included in an electronic brief of evidence, but was not tendered as part of Mr Lehrmann's criminal trial.

The usual practice is that such material is not to be used for any other purpose.

The court heard Mr Auerbach will testify that Mr Lehrmann provided the material, though he has denied doing so.

In his third affidavit, Mr Auerbach said Mr Lehrmann was provided access to the Seven Network office at Martin Place, where he photocopied "around 500 pages of documents".

"I viewed some of the documents that were being copied and could see that they were exhibits from the applicant's criminal proceedings," he said.

"I saw by way of example Ms Higgins's text messages."

He said Seven newsreader Angela Cox saw the pair and said, "Looks like you've got a big story coming".

During the hearing late yesterday, Ten's barrister Matthew Collins said evidence whether Mr Lehrmann provided the material, despite his denial under cross-examination, was relevant to his credit.

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