The Walkley Foundation has revoked the finalist status of Seven’s Spotlight interview with Bruce Lehrmann for the 68th Walkley Awards after documents uploaded to the Federal Court showed an exclusivity agreement made between Seven and the former Liberal staffer.
The leasing arrangement was made in April 2023, which provided Lehrmann with 12 months of accommodation in Sydney from 13 April 2023 to 12 April 2024.
In response, The Walkley Foundation said it is their responsibility to determine the eligibility of entries for consideration by the judging panels in each round of judging for the Walkley Awards.
After review and consideration of the documents, the foundation deemed the Seven Spotlight story “Trial and Error” was “not eligible”.
The statement said: “The Walkley Foundation Board has come to the unanimous conclusion that the Seven Spotlight story “Trial and Error” was not eligible for consideration in the All Media Scoop of the Year category for the 2023 Walkley Awards as the entry did not accurately describe the extent of benefits provided to Mr Lehrmann in exchange for interviews, information and exclusive access.”
Last week, Seven defended its decision to pay for former Liberal staffer Bruce Lehrmann’s rent in Sydney, which was paid in return for his Spotlight interviews.
In a statement to Mediaweek at the time, a Seven spokesperson said, “We said at the time we were assisting Bruce Lehrmann with his accommodation costs. It was well-reported back then. The 7NEWS Spotlight report was rightfully judged by the esteemed Walkley Foundation as one of the top three scoops of 2023.”
The interviews, conducted by journalist Liam Bartlett, were aired in June and August and are currently being examined in the court.