Bruce Lehrmann defamation circus rolls back into town as ex-TV producer Taylor Auerbach makes startling claims

Tim Clarke
The Nightly
4 Min Read
Taylor Auerbach arrives at court in Sydney on Thursday.
Taylor Auerbach arrives at court in Sydney on Thursday. Credit: Mick Tsikas/AAPIMAGE

A disgruntled former TV producer — who was tasked to babysit Bruce Lehrmann during negotiations for an exclusive interview — has told a court he saw the alleged rapist buy cocaine and Google prostitutes during one wild Sydney night.

On Thursday afternoon, ex-Seven Network employee Taylor Auerbach made his eleventh-hour entrance into Mr Lehrmann’s defamation action against Network Ten, having been called to provide fresh evidence on the day judgment was due to be handed down.

Ten say that evidence shows Mr Lehrmann not only to be a liar, but also a man willing to use the confidential material and court process to intimidate and harass his legal opponents.

Sign up to The Nightly's newsletters.

Get the first look at the digital newspaper, curated daily stories and breaking headlines delivered to your inbox.

Email Us
By continuing you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy.

One of those — Lisa Wilkinson — was in court to hear that evidence.

And the former star presenter, along with nearly 20,000 watching online, heard salacious claims by Mr Auerbach of sex, drugs and invoices — which he said were covered by his former employer.

Former Liberal staffer Bruce Lehrmann.
Former Liberal staffer Bruce Lehrmann. Credit: MICK TSIKAS/AAPIMAGE

A Seven Network spokesperson said those claims were “completely false”.

And in turn Mr Auerbach denied he was simply out to damage the Seven Network any way he could — despite admitting his hatred of former colleague and fellow producer Steve Jackson.

After weeks of salacious leaks, Mr Auerbach was immediately asked about the time spent with Mr Lehrmann from late 2022.

“I had been reappointed to be his babysitter, minder, looking after him,” he said.

Mr Auerbach claimed he took a taxi with Mr Lehrmann from Franca restaurant in Potts Point to the Meriton Hotel in Sydney’s city centre.

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

Journalist Lisa Wilkinson arrives at the Federal Court.
Journalist Lisa Wilkinson arrives at the Federal Court. Credit: DEAN LEWINS/AAPIMAGE

Mr Auerbach said he told Mr Lehrmann that he did not have the means to pay for the sex workers and that the potential interviewee should fund them himself. In a text to his then-boss, Mr Jackson, he said he raised concerns over Mr Lehrmann’s behaviour.

“I told him that Bruce was on the warpath again and that it was no anomaly,” Mr Auerbach said. “I think I used the words, ‘this is f...ed’.”

Mr Auerbach recalled a similar Sydney evening with Mr Lehrmann, where he had paid — for more than $10,000 worth of massages — on the Seven company credit card.

The following morning, he sent a distraught mea culpa, offering to resign for what he had done in a “drunken daze”, which he said at the time “had nothing to do with work”.

On the witness stand he alleged those payments were work-related. And he claimed a week later, he was offered a promotion and a payrise.

Again, a Seven Network spokesperson said that claim was also “completely false.”

Taylor Auerbach breaks the golf clubs of Steve Jackson in a bizarre video that was played in court.
Taylor Auerbach breaks the golf clubs of Steve Jackson in a bizarre video that was played in court. Credit: Instagram

After leaving Seven, Mr Auerbach made a claim for psychological injury. That was settled on confidential terms, he said. His lawyer said that was based on alleged bullying and anti-semitism.

But Mr Lehrmann’s lawyer, Matthew Richardson, suggested another motive — a hatred of Mr Jackson. To illustrate that, a bizarre video was played of Mr Auerbach destroying Mr Jackson’s expensive golf clubs, posted to social media with the caption: “Sue me”.

And Mr Auerbach also admitted to distributing a naked photograph of a woman without her consent earlier this year, as his feud with Mr Jackson simmered.

“I want to suggest to you, Mr Auerbach, that you are here today to do as much damage to your former employer and former colleagues as you possibly can?” Mr Richardson said. “And you’re prepared to lie in that endeavour?”

Mr Richardson also cast doubt on Mr Auerbach’s quality of recall, citing notes from a psychologist which reported his drinking at the time was around 140 standard drinks a week — or 30 standard drinks a day.

“You say that Mr Lehrmann provided these 2000-odd pages of messages … on a golf trip just before Christmas 2022 — more than three months before there was an agreement for a story. It didn’t happen, did it Mr Auerbach?”

In a statement, a Seven spokesperson categorically denied the string of allegations.

“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.

“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.”

Latest Edition

The front page of The Nightly for 15-04-2024

Latest Edition

Edition Edition 15 April 202415 April 2024

Justice Lee finds Lehrmann ‘hell-bent on having sex’ with Higgins and ‘didn’t care if she knew what was going on’