Graphic designer who exposed Martin Bashir scandal set for £1m payout

Graphic designer who exposed Martin Bashir scandal set for £1m payout

May 31, 2021

Graphic designer whose career was ruined after he exposed the Martin Bashir scandal is set for £1m payout from the BBC (funded out of viewers’ licence fees, of course)

  • Director-general Tim Davie will meet whistleblower Matt Wiessler on Thursday
  • Sources say Mr Wiessler could receive payout of £1million from the Corporation 
  • Graphic designer was asked by Martin Bashir to mock up fake bank statements 

The BBC faces paying out up to £1 million in compensation to the graphic designer whose career was wrecked after he blew the whistle on the Martin Bashir scandal.

The Mail on Sunday can reveal that director-general Tim Davie will meet Matt Wiessler on Thursday and personally apologise for how he was hounded out of the Corporation after sounding the alarm about disgraced Bashir’s 1995 interview with Princess Diana.

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.

BBC lawyers will discuss compensating Matt Wiessler (pictured) for his loss of earnings during this week’s meeting

Later, Mr Wiessler approached bosses because he was concerned that he might have unwittingly played a role in obtaining the interview by deception.

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).’

The MoS understands that BBC lawyers will discuss compensating Mr Wiessler for his loss of earnings during this week’s meeting.

Sources last night said the Corporation’s payout to him could be up to £1 million.

‘He has asked all along for a clear apology from the BBC and it has not been forthcoming to date,’ a close friend said.

‘He is very much hoping that this meeting on Thursday will at least result in an apology and perhaps push forward his claim for compensation.’

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.

Director-general Tim Davie will meet Matt Wiessler on Thursday ahead of a possible payout

‘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 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.’

Asked if he thought the BBC owed the graphic designer compensation, Mr Davie said it needs to go through a ‘legal discussion’.

He added: ‘We’ll engage in that discussion because clearly we were at fault.’

A report by former Supreme Court judge Lord Dyson earlier this month concluded Bashir engaged in ‘deceitful behaviour’ by commissioning the fake bank statements ahead of the Diana interview

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.

Writing in last weekend’s MoS, Mr Mangold said he ‘fared badly’ after raising his concerns, adding: ‘I was “let go” and a shame-faced BBC paid me peanuts as compensation.’

A devastating report by former Supreme Court judge Lord Dyson earlier this month 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

The BBC last night said it was unable to comment.

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