'Illicit drugs and prostitutes.' Affidavit published on Seven Network's payments to Bruce Lehrmann.

A former Spotlight producer has claimed Seven Network paid for "illicit drugs and prostitutes" as part of producers' efforts to secure an exclusive sit-down interview with Bruce Lehrmann

The show ran a feature interview with Lehrmann in mid 2023. The evidence has come to light in an affidavit from former TV producer Taylor Auerbach.

The affidavit was released on Wednesday morning by the Federal Court. It was tendered during Network Ten's application to reopen its case in Lehrmann's defamation claim. The claims in the affidavit are untested, and Auerbach will be cross examined on Thursday.

Lehrmann is suing Network 10 and Lisa Wilkinson based on the now infamous February 2021 interview on The Project in which former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins alleged she was sexually assaulted inside Parliament House while she worked there.

READ MORE: The 20 biggest revelations in the Bruce Lehrmann defamation case.

Higgins alleged Lehrmann raped her in the office of then Defence Industry Minister Linda Reynolds in the early hours of Saturday March 23, 2019. Lehrmann has always strenuously denied this.

Lehrmann was not named in Ten's broadcast, but he alleges details made him identifiable, and that The Project report was defamatory and has destroyed his reputation. Ten and Wilkinson have defended the defamation claims.

What the affidavit exposed about the Seven Network's payments to Bruce Lehrmann.

Producer Taylor Auerbach claimed Lehrmann leaked private and confidential texts from Higgins, sending them to Seven ahead of the exclusive interview on the network's Spotlight program.

The court heard the texts were provided to Seven in breach of the so-called Harman undertaking, which sought to ensure evidence from the abandoned criminal case against him was not used for other purposes.

Lehrmann previously denied in court providing any material to Seven other than his recorded interview.


Seven allegedly reimbursed Bruce Lehrmann for money spent on illicit drugs and prostitutes during its efforts to recruit him as well. This included lavish meals, flights, a golf excursion to Tasmania and more than $10,000 spent on a Sydney Thai massage.

Seven said in a statement it strongly denied Auerbach's "false and misleading claims". The network said it would never reveal its sources, noting Lehrmann's prior denials that he leaked the texts.

"Furthermore, Seven did not condone or authorise the alleged payments to Mr Lehrmann referred to in the affidavits," a Seven spokesman said. "The person involved admitted to the misuse of a Seven corporate card and all unauthorised expenses were immediately reimbursed."

On Tuesday April 2, there was a bid to introduce this new evidence in the case, which was approved by Justice Michael Lee.

"This is clearly fresh evidence," the Judge said in the Federal Court on Tuesday evening. 

Ten had said the evidence from the television producer was potentially case-changing. The former political staffer was due to learn on Thursday, April 4, whether his defamation case had succeeded. 

Judgment on the case is now delayed at least a week.

With AAP.

If this has raised any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service.

Mamamia is a charity partner of RizeUp Australia, a national organisation that helps women, children and families move on after the devastation of domestic and family violence. Their mission is to deliver life-changing and practical support to these families when they need it most. If you would like to support their mission you can donate here

Feature Image: AAP.