‘Appalled’: Channel Seven responds to allegations in Federal Court

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Network Seven has responded to the shock allegation in the Federal Court over claims Bruce Lehrmann partied with sex workers and cocaine, insisting it is “appalled” by the evidence.

In a statement issued on Thursday night, Seven also rejected outside court former Spotlight producer Taylor Auerbach’s claims that he was offered a promotion and a pay rise after the masseuse allegations.

“Seven is appalled by the allegations made in recent days. We do not condone the behaviours described in these allegations,’’ a spokesperson said.

“They do not reflect the culture of Seven.

“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.

“Seven did not reimburse Bruce Lehrmann for expenditure that has allegedly been used to pay for illegal drugs or prostitutes, and has never done so. Seven notes the matter remains before the courts.”

The network also took aim at claims it did not respond fully to legal subpoenas in the case.

“Seven also takes issue with the allegations recently made about its conduct,’’ a spokesman said.

“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.

“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.”

‘State of undress’: Explosive allegation

On Thursday, Mr Auerbach gave evidence in court after Network Ten won a last-minute bid to reopen the Lehrmann defamation case.

Court has been adjourned until 10.15am on Friday.

During cross examination, Bruce Lehrmann’s barrister Matthew Richardson asked Mr Auerbach if he had been involved in the distribution of nude photographs of a woman sitting on a couch with TV producer Steve Jackson.

“Is that true?’’ the barrister asked.

“Yes, sir,’’ Mr Auerbach replied.

“At some point during February or March of this year, did you circulate photographs of a woman in a state of undress taken about five years ago?’’ Mr Richardson asked.

“Yes, sir,’’ he replied.

“The woman’s breasts were exposed in these photographs, correct?’’ the barrister asked.

“Yes, sir,’’ he replied.

She was a woman you understood to be vulnerable, correct?” the barrister asked.

“No,’’ Mr Auerbach replied.

“So you sent those photographs to media organisations didn’t you?’’ the barrister said.

“You did not obtain the consent of the woman in question to do this. Did you know you were aware that it was a criminal act to send photographs … to third parties without consent?

“You’re aware it was a criminal act to send photographs of that kind to third parties without consent?”

“No,’’ he replied.

Mr Lehrmann’s barrister then asked if this was the reason why he was sacked from Sky News last year.

“Now, did your employers at Sky become aware that this had happened, that is that you had sent these photographs?’’ the barrister asked.

“No, no, I don’t know,’’ Mr Auerbach replied.

“Isn’t that why you were sacked?’’ the barrister asked.

Mr Auerbach said it was not the reason why he was sacked by Sky News.

Allegations of cocaine and sex workers

Auerbach outlined what he said happened when he attended the Meriton in January, 2023.

He said Mr Lehrmann purchased a bag of cocaine.

“When we got upstairs to the room, (Lehrmann) pulled it 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 and began googling series of websites to try and make that happen,’’ Auerbach said.

“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.”

Dr Matt Collins KC, representing Ten, asked, “What did you say?”

“Well I was taken aback,’’ he said.

Auerbach told the court that he told Mr Lehrmann he didn’t have the money to pay for the drugs or sex workers at the night at the Meriton. He told the court Mr Lehrmann said he would pay.

The producer said he contacted his boss Steve Jackson and said he was worried given the previous events with the Thai masseuse.

Mr Auerbach said he recalled texting Jackson that Bruce was “on the warpath again”.

“This is f**ked,’’ he said.