The BBC and graphic designer Matt Wiessler announce that a settlement has been reached between them.
The Beeb and graphic designer Wiessler have reached a deal, which will remain private and confidential, despite the corporation being paid for by the public.
“We are pleased that the BBC and Mr Wiessler have reached an agreement. 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.” – BBC Statement
The former designer for the broadcaster had said he’d been ‘made a scapegoat’ following the fallout from the Diana, Princess of Wales interview 25 years ago with Panorama and Martin Bashir. Bashier had requested that Wiessler ‘forge bank documents’ to secure an interview with Diana, suggesting those around her were not to be trusted as they were being bribed for information, which some have suggested enhanced her paranoia and ultimate demise in August 1997.
Matt Wiessler did not know how Mr Bashir intended to use the faked statements in the manner in which he did. However when controversy over the programme entered the Beeb and the production team it was later that he discovered executives had decided he would not work for the BBC again, effectively ending his career to save that of, allegedly, Bashir.
“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.” – Mr Wiessler’s lawyer, Louis Charalambous, Simons Muirhead Burton LLP
BBC News note that ‘Mr Wiessler was in the process of leaving the BBC and setting up his own production company when he was asked to mock up some bank statements by Bashir in 1995.The Panorama reporter provided the details without mentioning any connection to Diana, Princess of Wales.’ they continue ‘These were then used to lend credibility to Bashir’s false claims in meetings with Diana’s brother Earl Spencer that the princess was under surveillance and being conspired against by royal aides – helping the BBC interviewer to win her trust and eventually her famous interview later that year.’
Once Wiessler realised what had really gone on he discussed the matter with Beeb execs, only for an internal inquiry led by the BBC’s then head of news Tony Hall to place any wrongdoing on anyone other than Bashir who was described by Hall as ‘an honest man’. The report ended Wiessler’s career with the BBC and harmed his reputation he noted in a recent retrospective documentary on the Diana Panorama.