Lehrmann defamation decision possibly within the week

Duncan Murray |

Explosive evidence from TV producer Taylor Auerbach has prolonged Bruce Lehrmann’s defamation case.
Explosive evidence from TV producer Taylor Auerbach has prolonged Bruce Lehrmann’s defamation case.

It is the “obvious explanation” Bruce Lehrmann leaked alleged rape victim Brittany Higgins’ confidential text messages to the media, a court has been told.

Following two days of hearings which Justice Michael Lee described as “gatling gun allegations”, a decision in Lehrmann’s defamation suit against Network Ten and journalist Lisa Wilkinson could come next week.

Seven Network producer Taylor Auerbach claims he was leaked the text messages by Lehrmann while courting him for an exclusive, tell-all interview.

The messages came from police documents compiled prior to Lehrmann’s failed criminal trial in which he was accused of raping Ms Higgins.

Lawyer for Ten, Matthew Collins KC, described Lehrmann having leaked the messages as the “obvious explanation” as to how they came into Mr Auerbach’s possession.

The evidence will go towards building a profile of Lehrmann for the court as Justice Lee considers the defamation claim.

Mr Auerbach also told the court he witnessed Lehrmann buying cocaine and ordering sex workers to a Sydney hotel paid for by Seven.

Lehrmann later sent a $750 invoice to the Network, listing “pre-production expenses”, which Mr Auerbach said he understood to be reimbursement for the activities.

Seven also paid for dinners, hotels, massages and a golf trip for Lehrmann, as well as renting him a house in Sydney’s Randwick, according to an affidavit from Mr Auerbach.

Bruce Lehrmann
Bruce Lehrmann could learn the outcome of his defamation action next week. (Bianca De Marchi/AAP PHOTOS)

The court was told discussions took place around the time of Lehrmann’s 2022 criminal trial that he could be paid in the order of $200,000 for the interview.

The trial in the ACT Supreme Court, was derailed due to juror misconduct, with prosecutors dropping the charges against him over fears for Ms Higgins’ mental health.

Seven has broadly denied Mr Auerbach’s allegations, labelling them “false and misleading” and adding that it did not reveal journalists’ sources.

Mr Auerbach told the Federal Court on Friday he met Lehrmann’s representative John MacGowan in October 2022, to discuss the interview.

“I was in Canberra for the criminal trial between Mr Lehrmann and Ms Higgins,” the former TV producer said.

“We talked about the fact that Mr Lehrmann had many legal fees and needed to be compensated.”

Rather than pay Lehrmann directly, they discussed paying the money into a trust under a different name, the court was told.

Justice Lee said on Friday there was a large amount of new material for him to consider and that a judgment could be delivered as early as the second half of next week.

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AAP