Bruce Lehrmann’s university shown in bombshell laptop leak image

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The laptop allegedly used to leak the Spotlight program text messages sent by Lisa Wilkinson’s husband to Brittany Higgins had a bookmark to the University of Notre Dame, where Bruce Lehrmann was studying law.

Mr Lehrmann has always vehemently denied he was involved in leaking documents to Spotlight.

The network will not reveal its “sources” for the program, which included hours of never-before-seen CCTV and police interview audio.

Former friends of Mr Lehrmann have told news.com.au that he purchased an ASUS computer in early 2023 for his studies. Mr Lehrmann and his legal team have been contacted for comment.

The university detail is revealed at the top of a photograph that was uploaded by the Federal Court in a second affidavit sworn by Taylor Auerbach on March 31, 2024.

The bookmarks appear to include ASUS software and the “University of N”, with the logo of the University of Notre Dame visible.

The messages shown in the pictures were recovered from Ms Higgins’ phone by police investigating her alleged rape. They were part of a Cellebrite report that was later leaked to the media. Mr Lehrmann denies that or any other leak. He also maintains no sexual contact with Ms Higgins ever took place, and was not found guilty of any charges.

In the affidavit, Auerbach details the circumstances around how he claims he came into possession of documents used in the criminal trial but never released to the public.

The material, he claims, includes photographs of a document on a laptop being screenshots of text messages between Peter FitzSimons and Brittany Higgins.

“I know that the photographs were taken by Mark Llewellyn in a house rented in my name for the applicant in Randwick on 4 March 2023 because I have examined the metadata of the photographs which show the precise location that the photographs were taken and the date they were taken,’’ the affidavit states.

“I also recognise Mark Llewellyn’s image in the reflection of the laptop screen.”

The untested claims are contained in an affidavit uploaded to the Federal Court website on Wednesday morning and Auerbach was cross examined over them on Thursday and Friday.

The affidavit also claims that Mr Lehrmann spent money on “drugs and prostitutes” including a trip to a Surry Hills brothel in January 2023, in the company of the Seven staffer as the network tried to sign him up for an exclusive interview.

In response, Mr Lehrmann’s barrister Matthew Richardson SC raised the issue regarding the $750 invoice, that sex workers and cocaine would cost more than that.

“Even the least worldly person in the room, which regrettably is probably me, knows, your Honour, that that is a stretch,” he said.

And, in a statement outside of court, Seven said it was unaware of the real purpose of the expenditure and these alleged activities took place without the knowledge or consent of anyone on the Spotlight program.

Man in the mirror

In the lead-up to securing the exclusive in early 2023, Spotlight arranged accommodation for Mr Lehrmann in an apartment in Randwick.

The Auerbach affidavit claims that during that period of time the accommodation was booked in Auerbach’s name on a Seven credit card.

In a submission in Tuesday’s hearing, Wilkinson’s barrister Sue Chrysanthou told the court that a photograph contained in the affidavit would show Mr Llewellyn, the executive producer of the Spotlight program, in the reflection of a laptop screen.

Several images are included in the affidavit, that appear to show the reflection of Mr Llewellyn’s face, on a screen showing Ms Higgins’ text exchanges in a conversation with Wilkinson’s husband Peter FitzSimons.

Seven and Mr Llewellyn say they will not reveal their sources for the material in line with the journalist’s code of conduct.

“It’s not alleged that the Cellebrite extract containing the Dillaway-Higgins messages, nor the FitzSimons-Higgins messages, which were on the laptop, were made public by Channel 7,’’ Mr Lehrmann’s barrister Matthew Richardson SC said.

“Second, it’s not suggested that anyone at Seven read them, passed them on or did anything with them.”

Justice Lee then intervened saying, “Why does that matter?”

“Because part of the issue here, particularly when you get to abuse of process, is how significant are these facts. The submission was just made that all of this conduct was calculated to intimidate witnesses to not appear in court.”

Drugs, brothel claims

In January 2023, the affidavit states Mr Lehrmann travelled to Sydney for talks with Seven over the exclusive interview.

“I recall that monies paid by the applicant for illicit drugs and prostitutes that evening at the Meriton and the following evening at a brothel in Surry Hills were reimbursed to the applicant by Seven through ‘per diems’ via invoice,’’ the Auerbach affidavit states.

In the affidavit, Auerbach also details “a receipt for Sensai Thai Massage on 26 November 2022 when Mr Lehrmann was at his (Auerbach’s) home for approximately $10,315”.

A third man was also present, former Liberal staffer John Macgowan, a friend who was providing media advice to Mr Lehrmann.

However, the Auerbach affidavit states that while Mr Macgowan was present at the Elizabeth Bay property that he did not “benefit” from the Thai masseuses who arrived.

“I wish to clarify that although John Macgowan was present that evening he did not benefit from the Thai massages,’’ the affidavit states.

“My recollection is that he left soon after the masseuses arrived. Since swearing my First and Second Affidavit, I logged into my Airbnb account and located a copy of the receipt for the Tasmanian accommodation that I booked for the benefit of the applicant and John Macgowan as part of my role working on (Spotlight program) Trial and Error.”

Photocopy claims

During a dinner with Mr Lehrmann and Mr Llewellyn at Spice Temple on March 14, 2023, it is alleged the Spotlight EP said to Mr Lehrmann: “Do you have the documents from the criminal proceedings?”. The applicant allegedly said, “Yes I do.”

“Mark and I discussed what arrangements would have to be made for the applicant to gain access to Seven’s offices in Martin Place so he could copy his documents. I recall that we debated whether the applicant should sign in or use one of our passes,” Auerbach’s affidavit states.

“(Bruce Lehrmann) then accompanied Mark Llewellyn and I to Seven’s Martin Place offices.

“I observed that (Bruce Lehrmann) had in his possession a large lever arch hard back folder containing what I saw to be around 500 pages of documents printed on both sides.

“I viewed some of the documents that were being copied and could see that they were exhibits from the applicant’s criminal proceedings.

“I saw by way of example Ms Higgins’ text messages. While the applicant was copying the documents, we were seen by Seven newsreader Angela Cox. She said to me: ‘Looks like you’ve got a big story coming’.

“The applicant did not provide me with the copy of the documents that he made but said to me on a number of occasions that evening ‘you will get this copy when you sign me – get Mark to sign the paperwork’.”

Auerbach told the court he organised for Mr Lehrmann to use the Channel 7 photocopier one night and left Mr Lehrmann there to photocopy a large number of legal documents.

Mr Richardson SC, acting for Mr Lehrmann, said: “I want to submit to you Mr Lehrmann did not supply the AFP statement of facts to you.”

“I disagree,” Auerbach said. “The only person who provided me (with) documents was Mr Lehrmann.”

In a statement released at 10.44pm on Tuesday night a Seven Network spokesperson said the network strongly rejected “the false and misleading claims relating to the broadcast of material in the Spotlight program”.

“Seven has never revealed its source or sources and has no intention of doing so,’’ the spokesperson said.

“Seven notes Mr Lehrmann’s court testimony last year that he was not the source.

“Furthermore, Seven did not condone or authorise the alleged payments to Mr Lehrmann referred to in the affidavits.

“As has been previously reported, the person involved admitted to the misuse of a Seven corporate card and all unauthorised expenses were immediately reimbursed. Seven notes that these proceedings remain before the court.”

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