The longest-serving executive producer of 60 Minutes, John Westacott, has died after a suspected medical incident on a yacht on Sydney Harbour off Vaucluse.

Westacott, a former director of Nine news and current affairs, died when he fell off the boat near Neilson Park in Sydney’s eastern suburbs on Sunday. He was unable to be revived and died at the scene

Colleagues at Nine confirmed Westacott – who was in his early 70s – died on Sunday. He had retired after 25 years with the network in 2009.

Westacott was a former journalist at the Daily Telegraph and the Australian newspaper. He then went on to dominate news and current affairs at Nine for more than two decades

When he was leading the news department, Westacott appointed Peter Overton as the Sydney anchor, a move which proved to be a good one.

He understood the integrity and authenticity that Peter would bring to Nine News and set it apart from the rest

He got attention in 2008 when the network’s former Los Angeles correspondent Christine Spiteri won a breach of contract and trade practices claim against Nine and was awarded a six-figure sum