Diana interview whistleblower demands face-to-face apology from BBC boss

Graphic designer Matt Wiessler, who mocked up documents for Martin Bashir, says he was made ‘fall guy’

The graphic designer who mocked up bank statements that helped Martin Bashir secure an interview with Diana, Princess of Wales has demanded a face-to face-apology from the director general of the BBC after being exonerated by a report into the scandal.

In the report, Lord Dyson praised Matt Wiessler for acting “responsibly and appropriately” after he blew the whistle on Bashir when he realised how the fake statements had been used to gain the trust of Diana’s brother, Charles Spencer.

Wiessler told the Guardian he had been treated “disgracefully” by the BBC since raising the alarm. “I feel vindicated – someone has at last found out that I was completely innocent,” he said.

He added: “I want to see Tim Davie [the BBC director general] in person – end of story.” On Thursday, Davie wrote to Wiessler with an apology he dismissed as “so bland it was almost meaningless”.

Documents released last year revealed that in 1996 the then head of news and future director general, Tony Hall, blacklisted Wiessler from working for the corporation in the wake of an internal review into the interview.

Wiessler said he had been made the “fall guy” to protect Bashir and the interview scoop. He said: “The blacklist must be lifted as a matter of principle.”

He added: “They threw me under the train. I’m still lying on the tracks. Come and pick me up.”

Wiessler, who won a Royal Television Society award for his work at the BBC before the Diana interview, plans to discuss a compensation claim. His lawyer is Louis Charalambous, who represented Amber Heard in her libel victory against Johnny Depp. Wiessler said: “I am probably owed something if the world is a fair one.”

Wiessler, a former friend and squash partner of Bashir, said he had been “completely conned by him” into producing the fake bank statements. He said: “Martin could sweet talk people into believing him. He was saying: ‘I’m on to a really big story – I’ve just got to reconstruct these documents that I’ve seen’ and I worked through the night mocking them up.”

After the Diana interview was broadcast, Wiessler said he “put two and two together” over how the fake documents had been used. He then raised concerns with at least four managers at the BBC, but they were all ignored. “When you blow the whistle on a huge scoop like that the entire corporation showed me their back,” he said.

Wiessler also said he had confronted Bashir about what had happened over a meal at an Italian restaurant. “I said: I’m being set up as the fall guy and I want to get my story out.’ He just zipped his lip and said: ‘All I can say is, speak to no one.’ We never spoke again. I left without saying goodbye.”

He is still trying to clear his name. “As late as last November the Mail was still calling me a ‘forger’. My family in arguments still say: ‘You forger.’ It’s like a joke but not a joke.”

Wiessler, who now runs a graphic design business in Torquay, said: “I have a great life now, but for 20 years I didn’t. I became a drifter in the West Country. I had the bailiffs at my door because I couldn’t pay my bills. I want the BBC to think: if I was this man, how would I want to be treated now?”

He also revealed that last year he discussed the fake bank statements in a friendly phone with Spencer. “It was good to speak to Spencer, because he is an ally. He has very similar grievances that I have with the same people.”

Wiessler is convinced that the interview played a part in Diana’s death in 1997. He said: “If the Dyson investigation had happened in 1996 I swear that Diana would be alive today. Because it all would have come out and she would have realised Martin was up to no good and making fantastical claims.”

The former Panorama producer Mark Killick, who was sacked from the programme within 24 hours when he raised concerns, said senior managers at the BBC had fostered a “culture of fear” to deter whistleblowers and orchestrated a smear campaign against its own employees.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast Killick also criticised the BBC for its inadequate and “generic” apology to both whistleblowers and to Diana’s sons.

The BBC has been approached for comment.


Matthew Weaver

The GuardianTramp

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