Diana interview: BBC trying to make amends, says Bashir whistleblower

By Dulcie Lee
BBC News

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Media caption,

Matt Wiessler: 'It's been a weight on my shoulders for a very long time'

The whistleblower who first warned the BBC about faked documents at the heart of its Princess Diana interview has said the broadcaster has made amends for how he was treated.

Graphic designer Matt Wiessler was sidelined after he raised concerns about the methods reporter Martin Bashir used to get the scoop in 1995.

Mr Wiessler said BBC director general Tim Davie "made multiple unreserved apologies" in a meeting on Thursday.

They also discussed compensation.

But Mr Wiessler said the matter was confidential, adding: "We very much both just want to move on."

In 1995, Mr Wiessler was commissioned by Panorama interviewer Bashir to mock up fake bank statements, but did not know what they would be used for until after the programme aired.

The documents were used to lend credibility to Bashir's false claims to 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.

After his meeting with the director general, Mr Wiessler said: "We had a fantastic conversation. He made multiple unreserved apologies, which I thought was great - and he was really heartfelt about it."

Asked whether the broadcaster had made amends, he said: "Yes, very much so. Because I still felt that to this day the BBC were just saying things to sort of appease me.

"But I have come away from it feeling, 'no they really, really support me'."

The in-person apology comes some 26 years after the bombshell interview first aired.

"It's been a weight on my shoulders for a very long time," Mr Wiessler added.

"I think that there's always a bit of regret about that, but as I say, we've hit it off pretty well and I'm quite happy right now."

Concerns about how Bashir secured the interview began to resurface last autumn, prompting an independent investigation by retired judge Lord Dyson.

The investigation found Bashir had used deception to secure the interview, and said the BBC had fallen short of its "high standards of integrity and transparency".

The BBC subsequently made an "unconditional apology" over the way it obtained an interview.

Following the investigation, Bashir said he "never wanted to harm" Diana and was "deeply sorry" to her sons, the dukes of Cambridge and Sussex.

Speaking to the Sunday Times he admitted he should not have shown the forged bank statements to Earl Spencer.

"Obviously I regret it, it was wrong. But it had no bearing on anything. It had no bearing on [Diana], it had no bearing on the interview."