BBC apologises to Bashir whisteblower Matt Wiessler
Director-general Tim Davie apologises to graphic designer whistleblower who tried to expose Martin Bashir’s methods for landing his Panorama interview with Princess Diana
- Graphic designer Matt Wiessler has met with BBC bosses to discuss how he was treated in the wake of the Princess Diana Panorama interview with Martin Bashir
- Mr Wiessler has said he wants to ‘move on’ after he received a personal apology
- Designer was sidelined by BBC after raising concerns that fake bank statements he mocked up for Bashir had been used to persuade Diana to do the interview
- Sources say Mr Wiessler could receive payout of £1million from the Corporation
- BBC spokesperson has described the meeting as both constructive and positive
Pictured: graphic designer Matt Wiessler has said he wants to ‘move on’ after he received a personal apology from the BBC over the Martin Bashir controversy
The whistleblower who tried to expose Martin Bashir’s methods for landing his exclusive Panorama interview with Princess Diana has said he wants to ‘move on’ after he received a personal apology from the director-general of the BBC.
Graphic designer Matt Wiessler was sidelined by the corporation after raising concerns that fake bank statements he mocked up for Mr Bashir had been used by the journalist to persuade Diana to do the interview.
Speaking after a meeting at the BBC where he received a personal apology from current director-general Tim Davie, he was asked why the apology was important to him.
He told BBC News that he had come away from the meeting feeling that the corporation wanted to ‘clear up the past and start again on a sort of friendly relationship’.
Asked about the prospect of being paid compensation, he said: ‘There might well be but I’m not involved in that and Tim and I have spoken about that quite openly, it’s sort of confidential but we very much both just want to move on.’
Mr Wiessler was asked by Bashir to mock up fake bank statements, which the reporter then showed Diana’s brother Earl Spencer as part of his bid to secure the bombshell Panorama interview.
Later, Mr Wiessler approached bosses because he was concerned that he might have unwittingly played a role in obtaining the interview by deception.
Mr Wiessler was asked by Bashir to mock up fake bank statements, which the reporter then showed Diana’s brother Earl Spencer in a bid to secure the Panorama interview (pictured)
But instead of praising him for blowing the whistle, documents from 1996 released last year revealed how Tony Hall, the then head of news and future director-general, blacklisted him from working for the Corporation.
Lord Hall told the-then BBC director-general Lord Birt: ‘We are taking steps to ensure that the graphic designer involved – Matthew Wiessler – will not work for the BBC again (when a current contract expires in the next few weeks).’
Mr Wiessler was an award-winning star of the BBC’s graphics department who helped mastermind the graphics for the BBC’s 1992 Election night coverage while still in his 20s. He worked with presenters Peter Snow and David Dimbleby to reinvent the so-called ‘swingometer’ used during General Election coverage.
A recent investigation by Lord Dyson into the interview criticised the methods Mr Bashir used to secure his bombshell 1995 Panorama interview.
BBC Director-general Tim Davie (pictured) last week admitted to being ‘shocked’ at how Mr Wiessler and other whistleblowers had been treated in the fallout from the Diana interview
The report also suggested the BBC had failed to uphold ‘governance, accountability and scrutiny’.
Lord Dyson praised Mr Wiessler, who is now the co-owner of a Devon bicycle design business, for acting ‘responsibly and appropriately’ by blowing the whistle and said ‘nobody has criticised him for accepting the commission’ to mock up the bank statements.
A BBC spokeswoman said of the meeting: ‘It was both constructive and positive, but as you’d expect, we are not going to get into the specifics of a private meeting.’
Sources told the Mail on Sunday that the Corporation’s payout to Mr Wiessler could be up to £1 million.
Three other former Panorama journalists – Tom Mangold, Mark Killick and Harry Dean – who approached the programme’s editor Steve Hewlett with their concerns over Bashir could also pursue claims for compensation.
Director-general Tim Davie last week admitted to being ‘shocked’ at how Mr Wiessler and other whistleblowers had been treated.
He said: ‘The very person who raised this – and I know many staff feel very strongly about this – the very person who raised this as an issue, suffered enormous impacts, which we’re very sorry for.’
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