Spotlight undergoes major shake-up after scandal

Seven has been working hard behind the scenes to rebuild its beleaguered current affairs show Spotlight.

It was first reported last month that Mark Llewellyn, the former executive producer of Spotlight, was leaving Seven following weeks of claims about how the current affairs show allegedly reimbursed Bruce Lehrmann for money spent on cocaine and sex workers, allegations both Seven and Mr Llewllyn denied.

Just weeks after his exit from the network, it’s been revealed that Seven has reportedly poached one of rival network Nine’s rising star executives to help Spotlight.

Gemma Williams, 25, who is the daughter of former A Current Affair executive producer Grant Williams, will be taking over the role, reports the Daily Telegraph.

It marks one of the first major moves by new Seven’s Director of News and Current Affairs and Editor-in-Chief Anthony De Ceglie.

Williams had been at Nine for eight years, most recently as Sydney Bureau Chief for A Current Affair.

Mr Llewellyn was among the Spotlight staff dragged into the spotlight during the defamation trial, with bizarre videos being played to the court during proceedings.

One featured Mr Llewellyn wringing a towel out to the popular Boney M song Rivers of Babylon.

The lyrics “by the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yeah, we wept, when we remembered Zion” can be heard as the 18-second video plays. At the end of the clip, Mr Llewellyn can be seen giving a thumbs-up to the camera.

Following his exit from the network, Llewellyn said in a statement that he was “proud” of his achievements.

“I am proud of Spotlight and proud of the dedicated team who make it,” he said. “I repeat that any suggestion that I was aware of, condoned or arranged payments for illegal or unsavoury activities is wrong.”

Former Spotlight producer Taylor Auerbach gave evidence last month at the trial against Network Ten and Lisa Wilkinson about some of the tactics allegedly used by the program to secure an exclusive interview with Lehrmann.

The network also denied the allegations made in the federal court, saying: “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.”

Outgoing commercial director, Bruce McWilliam, appeared to blame Llewellyn for the network’s failure to produce documents on subpoena to the federal court in the defamation case. “Given Mr Llewellyn’s status as a senior producer, I had no reason to doubt his indication that no written or electronic communications with Mr Lehrmann existed, and consistent with that indication extensive searches of Seven’s email system were not performed at that time,” McWilliam said in an affidavit.

Seven and Mr Llewellyn denied all claims made against the network by Mr Auerbach.

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