BBC agrees payout of up to £1million of licence fee payers’ money to graphic designer whose career was ruined after he exposed the Martin Bashir-Princess Diana scandal
- Graphic designer Matt Wiessler was whistleblower on the Martin Bashir scandal
- Mr Wiessler was asked by Bashir to make fake bank statement for BBC reporter
- Bashir showed them to Princess Diana’s brother Earl Spencer to secure interview
- Mr Wiessler was then hounded out of the Corporation after sounding the alarm
- Now BBC has announced it has agreed a settlement with Mr Wiessler over issue
- BBC issues ‘full and unconditional apology to Mr Wiessler for way he was treated’
The BBC has today reached an agreement with the graphic designer whose career was wrecked after he revealed the Martin Bashir scandal.
Corporation bosses have today issued a ‘full and unconditional apology’ to Matt Wiessler, who blew the whistle on the disgraced reporter’s conduct in securing his world exclusive interview with Princess Diana.
Mr Wiessler was asked by Bashir to mock-up fake bank statements, which were shown to Diana’s brother Earl Spencer as part of his bid to secure the bombshell Panorama interview in 1995.
But having become concerned he might have unwittingly played a role in obtaining the interview by deception, Mr Wiessler informed BBC bosses.
Instead of taking action being taken against then-star man Bashir, Mr Wiessler was hounded out of the BBC and blacklisted from working for the corporation.
The BBC apologised in May after an inquiry by Lord Dyson found Bashir had used ‘deceitful’ methods which were later covered up by a ‘woefully ineffective’ internal investigation by Tony Hall – who later became BBC director-general.
Having met with the current director-general Tim Davie earlier this year, Mr Wiessler has now reached a settlement with the BBC over his treatment.
Though BBC bosses say the details of the financial settlement are confidential, it was reported earlier this year that Mr Wiessler could be awarded as much as £1million in compensation.
Other reports have suggested the figure could be in the region of £750,000 – though the actual figure remains unknown.
In a statement, the BBC said: ‘We are pleased that the BBC and Mr Wiessler have reached an agreement.
Corporation bosses have today issued a ‘full and unconditional apology’ to Matt Wiessler (pictured), who blew the whistle on the disgraced reporter’s conduct in securing his world exclusive interview with Princess Diana
Mr Wiessler was asked by Bashir to mock-up fake bank statements, which were shown to Diana’s brother Earl Spencer as part of his bid to secure the bombshell Panorama interview in 1995 (pictured)
How the Mail reported the story at the time. The BBC apologised in May after an inquiry by Lord Dyson in May found Bashir had used ‘deceitful’ methods which were later covered up by a ‘woefully ineffective’ internal investigation by Tony Hall, who later became BBC director-general
‘We would like to repeat our full and unconditional apology to Mr Wiessler for the way he was treated by the corporation in the past.
‘We also apologise to Mr Wiessler’s family. Mr Wiessler acted with complete integrity, including in raising his concerns at the time and we are sorry that these were not listened to.
‘We wish Mr Wiessler all the best for the future.’
Mr Wiessler’s lawyer, Louis Charalambous, Simons Muirhead Burton LLP, said: ‘Mr Wiessler is relieved that the BBC has now matched the Director General’s fulsome apologies with appropriate financial compensation for the wrongs done to him and the profound impact they had on his and his family’s life.
‘It is important to my client that the BBC has acknowledged that he acted properly and responsibly throughout.’
It was revealed earlier this year how Mr Davie had personally apologised to Mr Wiessler for how he was hounded out of the Corporation after sounding the alarm about disgraced Bashir’s 1995 interview with Princess Diana.
Instead of praising him for blowing the whistle, documents from 1996 released last year revealed how Lord 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).’
At the time, 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.
The BBC apologised in May after an inquiry by Lord Dyson in May found Bashir (pictured left) had used ‘deceitful’ methods which were later covered up by a ‘woefully ineffective’ internal investigation by Tony Hall, who later became BBC director-general. Pictured right: Current director-general Tim Davie who met with Mr Wiessler earlier this year
Earl Spencer, Diana’s brother, said the documents were part of a ‘grooming’ effort by Mr Bashir to win his trust and get him to introduce the journalist to his sister
He worked with presenters Peter Snow and David Dimbleby to reinvent the so-called ‘swingometer’ used during General Election coverage.
‘Matt was one of the top TV graphic designers of the time,’ his friend said.
‘An important part of putting facts across to people was using graphics, particularly in current affairs programmes like Panorama. It was a very particular skill and he was acknowledged by everybody to be one of the best.’
Mr Davie in May 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.’
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.
A devastating report by former Supreme Court judge Lord Dyson in May concluded that Bashir engaged in ‘deceitful behaviour’ by commissioning the fake bank statements and accused Hall of overseeing a ‘woefully ineffective’ internal probe into the issue.
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.
Martin Bashir, who was still working as the BBC’s religion editor until earlier this year, quit the corporation in May, citing health issues.
Earlier this year the Mail on Sunday revealed that the BBC was set to pay a unprecedented £1.5million donation to a charity chosen by the Royal Family over the scandal.
The donation includes £1.15 million – the amount the Corporation made from selling the global rights to Bashir’s explosive Princess Diana interview – plus reparations.
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