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$10,000 on Thai Massages, $500 Dinners: Lehrmann Defamation Trial Reopened in Court

The Federal Court has published an affidavit alleging Seven Network made payments to Bruce Lehrmann for sex, drugs and accommodation.
Arielle Richards
Melbourne, AU
Bruce Lehrmann arrives at court in October 2022 in Canberra, Australia. Image by

Martin Ollman / Stringer via Getty Images

The Federal Court has published an affidavit alleging Seven Network made payments to Bruce Lehrmann for sex, drugs and accommodation, over the course of securing an exclusive interview for the network’s Spotlight program.

The defamation case brought by the former Liberal staffer against the Channel Ten network was reopened on Tuesday night, when the court gave permission for the network to present fresh evidence.


Lehrmann is suing Ten and presenter Lisa Wilkinson for defamation over a 2021 interview with Brittany Higgins on The Project where she alleged she was raped in Parliament House in 2019. Lehrmann was not named in the interview, but brought a defamation suit against the network after he was later named as the alleged perpetrator in the ensuing criminal case. He denies any wrongdoing. 

The defamation case was set to conclude this week, however on Tuesday, Ten was granted the opportunity to present fresh evidence to be tested before the court on Thursday.

The new evidence comes from a former Seven Network producer, Taylor Auerbach. Auerbach has sworn an affidavit stating he has in his possession receipts that show tens of thousands of dollars of goods and services were paid for by the network while it was courting Lehrmann for an exclusive interview.

Seven has said it did not condone nor authorise the alleged payments to Lehrmann described in the affidavit.

In the affidavit read in court on Tuesday, the former Seven Employee alleged that Lehrmann was reimbursed by Seven through “per diems”, sent via invoice to Spotlight. The charges allegedly  included illicit drugs and sex workers after a late meeting at the Meriton Sydney on January 5, 2023. Auerbach said he could not provide receipts for these allegations, which are yet to be tested by the court.


Receipts provided by Auerbach show $10,315 was spent in eight separate charges for Thai massages on November 26, 2022.

Other alleged expenses paid for by Seven included a $500 meal at Sydney’s Chophouse Restaurant, $11,738 on accommodation in Randwick for three weeks, golf session in Tasmania for $401 and a $450 bill at the Spice Temple in Sydney.

But Auerbach also alleged Lehrmann may have handed confidential documents from his criminal trial to the Spotlight program, including text messages from Brittany Higgins.

“I viewed some of the documents that were being copied and could see that they were exhibits from the applicant’s criminal proceedings,” he wrote. “I saw by way of example Ms Higgins’ text messages.”

Auerbach will be cross-examined in court on Thursday.

Arielle Richards is the multimedia reporter at VICE Australia, follow her on Instagram and TikTok.