Australia’s Seven Network denies buying interviewee sex and drugs

Australia's Seven Network denies buying interviewee sex and drugs
Bruce Lehrmann outside courtGetty Images

Australia’s most popular TV channel has refuted claims that it paid for sex employees and illegal drugs to arrange an appointment with an alleged murderer.

A previous Seven Network manufacturer, Taylor Auerbach, made the complaints while giving evidence in a defamation event.

Bruce Lehrmann is suing another stream, Network 10, over an claim- which he denies- that he raped a partner in parliament.

Seven has been subject to intense scrutiny for its exclusive relationship with Mr. Lehrmann, but it maintains that it “acted properly at all times.”

Seven is “above the claims made recently. We do not approve of the actions taken in these claims. They do not represent the tradition of Seven”, a spokesperson said on Thursday.

Only two days before the judgment was scheduled to be delivered, the allegations have prompted a last-minute continuation of Mr. Lehrmann’s defamation case, which has been compared to a quasi-criminal test.

” Let sunlight get the best disinfectant”, Justice Michael Lee said when reopening the defamation event.

The assault incident

Brittany Higgins claimed she was raped by a coworker inside a president’s company in Canberra in February 2021, shocking Australia.

Tens of thousands of people across the country attended rallies where she claimed to protest the treatment of women in politics.

Brittany Higgins speaking at a rally in Canberra

Getty Images

Although journalist Lisa Wilkinson’s document for Network 10’s The Project did not identify him, Mr. Lehrmann claims that he was quickly recognisable.

He was charged by the police with the alleged assault six months later. But his prosecution in 2022 was aborted after judge wrongdoing. A second trial was afterward postponed out of concern for Ms. Higgins ‘ mental health. Mr. Lehrmann had entered a not-guilty plea.

Seven’s Light program next began chasing Mr Lehrmann, who was unable to provide information at his legal test, for his side of the story.

He described the devastating effects of the case on his career in the two-part distinctive with the network, which included a statement that claimed he had no idea why Ms. Higgins had ended up naked on a couch in the office where she worked. The program was later chosen as a winner in Australia’s major media awards in the Ladle of the Year category.

But before his appointment had also aired, Mr Lehrmann launched a libel complaint against Network 10 and Ms Wilkinson, saying the alleged abuse never happened and that they “utterly destroyed” his status.

Ms. Higgins was a testimony for Network 10 and promised to back up its claim as being substantial.

The slander trial

In Australia, defamation cases have a lower standard of proof than criminal cases, and judges frequently permit reams of apparently radial information to aid in making judgments on the legitimacy or figure of witnesses.

More than a few witnesses gathered for this test over the course of five weeks to expand on the evidence presented at the legal one.

This time, Mr. Lehrmann and Ms. Higgins both spent several days giving herself information in the witness box. Additionally, it heard testimony from Mr. Lehrmann’s former coworkers who testified before the court about his “bad vibes,” including analysis from a lip reader who had flown in from the UK, hours of work being joyfully defended by Ms. Wilkinson and her Network 10 colleagues, and testimony from them.

Lisa Wilkinson outside court

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However, Network Seven was one of the most significant revelations in the facts.

The system claimed at the time of the Mr. Lehrmann interview that it had “made no transaction” to him but that it had “assissisted with accommodation as part of the shooting of the story.”

But in court, Mr Lehrmann revealed that Seven had agreed to pay his rent for a year, costing the network more than A$ 100, 000 ( £52, 000,$ 66, 000 ).

As Seven drew ire and charges of deception, the Walkley Awards immediately revoked the show’s candidacy.

Ms. Higgins has also accused Mr. Lehrmann of leaking her secret writings, which she provided during the policeman analysis, but he has denied giving any information to Spotlight.

The new information

In a completely different controversy, Seven made the initial rumors that it had paid Mr. Lehrmann more than it had previously disclosed.

Information that were leaked to the media purportedly claimed that a Light maker who was pursuing Mr. Lehrmann for the meeting had used a Seven credit card to pay for expensive Thai massage at evening.

Mr. Lehrmann described the claim that he had a treatment as a “bizarre account from a disgruntled ex-Network Seven manufacturer.”

However, the manufacturer, Taylor Auerbach, provided more than 2,800 sworn documents for Network 10 to use in court to defend Mr. Lehrmann’s slander state. In these papers, he alleged that Mr Lehrmann was the hypocrite.

Mr. Auerbach claimed at a special hearing on Thursday that he had charged about A$ 10,000 in treatments to the business card after an evening with Mr. Lehrmann, before personally paying his firm back.

He claimed, however, that Seven paid for a golfing trip to Tasmania and many expensive dinners with Mr. Lehrmann.

Most rapidly, Mr Auerbach said in judge it had also reimbursed Mr Lehrmann for another expenses- including illegal drugs, “prostitutes” and a house explore- via a “per diem” allowance.

It’s not clear whether Mr. Auerbach, who alleges Seven, was aware of the nature of the charges he claims they were reimbursing.

Mr. Lehrmann refuted Mr. Lehrmann’s claims that he had not provided Spotlight with sensitive information, such as Ms. Higgins ‘ history of text messages or classified police records.

Prosecutors are required to give evidence to the accused in criminal trials, but the defense is required to refrain from using it outside of court.

However, Mr. Auerbach asserts that Mr. Lehrmann arrived at Seven’s offices with a sizable amount of paperwork and photocopied more than 500 pages of the Spotlight episode’s evidence. Mr. Auerbach provided images taken of a laptop screen showing some of Ms Higgins ‘ texts as proof that the documents were exchanged.

In the reflection of the laptop screen, there appears to be a bald man with thick black glasses- which Mr Auerbach says is Mark Llewellyn, Spotlight’s executive producer. The metadata of the photo shows it was taken at Mr Lehrmann’s accommodation at the time, Mr Auerbach claimed.

A photo of a laptop screen showing a text message, with a bald man in the reflection

Federal Court of Australia

Seven has stated that it wo n’t reveal the source of the nuanced information that was aired in its report, but that Mr. Lehrmann had pretended to be true, and that he had not.

According to a Seven spokesperson, Mr. Lehrman had never been reimbursed for money allegedly used to pay for prostitutes or illegal drugs, and that the network had “at no point” asked anyone to delete or destroy any evidence.

Additionally, Mr. Lehrmann’s attorneys claimed that he had not received “per diems” from Seven in exchange for the expenses he claimed he had alleged and that he had not provided the program with documentation.

They argued that Mr. Auerbach had an axe to grind with Seven after his employment was terminated in 2023 and played a bizarre video of him destroying a coworker’s golf clubs in slow motion.

You are here today to cause your former employer and former coworkers the least amount of damage, according to barrister Matthew Richardson.

” No, sir”, Mr Auerbach replied.

The fallout

The slander trial is still going, but Mr Auerbach’s evidence is already being used to attack Mr Lehrmann’s credibility as a witness. Plus, Network 10 has argued it shows both a contempt of court and an abuse of its processes – requesting the judge consider prosecuting him for that.

According to observers, it also has significant implications for Seven, which is already under fire for its actions in obtaining the interview.

Paying for interviews is not a violation of Australia’s media code of ethics, but it is becoming more and more common.

However, the code states that journalists must disclose when payments have been made and that they ca n’t let commercial reasons derail accuracy, fairness, or independence.

” If half of this is true- and it’s yet to be tested in court-# 7spotlight is an absolute disgrace”, Paul Barry, host of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Media Watch programme, wrote on X.

Due to the saga, Mr. Auerbach has lost his job at Sky News Australia, and a different Spotlight producer has also been fired from his position as New South Wales Police’s media director. Many people believe the fallout is likely to get worse.

According to a report from Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, Seven Network owner Kerry Stokes may decide to halt the Spotlight program, which first aired in 2021, in order to lessen the negative effects to the network’s reputation.

” It does raise questions as to who’s in charge at Seven and whether they should still be in charge”, Stephen Mayne, a shareholder activist and media commentator, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Others contend that it may have wider implications for Australia’s media industry’s credibility.

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