Saturday, 28 Nov 2020

Princess Diana interview graphic designer demands Tony Hall apologise

‘Stand by the truth, not the big scoop’: Graphic designer behind fake Bashir bank statements demands Tony Hall apologise after he was sacked by BBC in ‘bid to cover-up Diana scandal’

  • Suggested Lord Hall of Birkenhead was more interested backing the ‘big scoop’
  • Matt Wiessler claimed Mr Bashir got him to create two fake bank statements
  • Reporter then used them to win over Diana’s brother Earl Spencer 

The graphic designer who produced fake bank statements which helped trick Princess Diana into a bombshell interview with Martin Bashir launched a savage attack on former director-general Tony Hall for his part in hushing up the scandal.

Matt Wiessler, who was sacked from the BBC after details of his role in making the bank statements emerged, spoke to the BBC’s Today Programme on Tuesday.

He suggested that Lord Hall of Birkenhead, who retired earlier this year, was more interested backing the ‘big scoop’ than in standing by ‘the truth’.

Mr Bashir is said to have played on Princess Diana’s paranoia by telling her lies about the Queen’s health, Prince Charles being ‘in love’ with William and Harry’s nanny Tiggy Legge-Bourke and Diana’s staff betraying her to MI5 and newspapers during his attempt to secure the interview. 

The graphic designer who produced fake bank statements which helped trick Princess Diana into a bombshell interview with Martin Bashir launched a savage attack on former director-general Tony Hall for his part in hushing up the scandal

Mr Wiessler claimed he was ordered by Mr Bashir to create two counterfeit bank statements, which the reporter then used to win over Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer as he tried to meet the Princess. 

But one year after the Panorama interview, the corporation excused itself of any wrongdoing at an initial inquiry in 1996. 

However, memos and minutes from 1995 and 1996 suggested Lord Hall – who was then the BBC’s head of news – was among those who had hushed up the scandal. 

The memo showed how the BBC board of governors presided over ‘steps to ensure that the graphic designer does not work for the BBC again’.  

Speaking of Lord Hall, Mr Wiessler told the BBC’s Mishal Husain: ‘People in his position who are on executive salaries, when push comes to shove and there is a real issue, they shouldn’t stand by the big scoop, they should stand by the truth, that is why they get paid a lot of money. 

Asked what he thinks the BBC’s response should now be, Mr Wiessler demanded that the corporation ‘say sorry publicly’ for the ‘damage that has been done’. 

He added: ‘My children know that people call me a forger. I was an award-winning graphic designer. 

Matt Wiessler, who was sacked from the BBC after details of his role in making the bank statements emerged, spoke to the BBC’s Today Programme on Tuesday

He suggested that Lord Hall of Birkenhead, who retired earlier this year, was more interested backing the ‘big scoop’ than in standing by ‘the truth’

‘My RTS award is in reception at Television Centre, maybe not to this day but it certainly was then.’

And when asked why he had not spoken out until now, Mr Wiessler said, Because I’m a nobody, who would I speak to?

‘I had to do something to reinvent myself, start a new life. I moved 250 miles away from London.’ 

He added that Bashir ‘needs to come forward’ because ‘he is the only one that has the answers.

Bashir clinched his access to the princess via her brother, Earl Spencer, who says the journalist showed him copies of bank statements (pictured) which purported to be from the private account of his head of security, Alan Waller. They apparently showed – falsely – that he was receiving money from a newspaper group and a mysterious offshore company

Mr Bashir is said to have played on Princess Diana’s paranoia by telling her lies about the Queen’s health, Prince Charles being ‘in love’ with William and Harry’s nanny Tiggy Legge-Bourke and Diana’s staff betraying her to MI5 and newspapers during his attempt to secure the interview.

The BBC had said they needed fresh evidence and the help of Mr Bashir to re-investigate the circumstances into how the interview came about. 

The reporter, who is now the BBC’s religious affairs editor, was said to be ‘seriously unwell’ after undergoing heart bypass surgery and contracting Covid-19. 

However, he was photographed last Friday walking home after visiting an Indian takeaway and a wine shop. It is believed he will now take part in a second investigation. 

A source told the Daily Mail: ‘The new inquiry will look at absolutely all the available evidence, it will speak to all the protagonists, and that must include Martin Bashir.’  

The devastating testimony of the artist paid by BBC to fake documents

My name is Matthew Wiessler and I worked for BBC News and Current Affairs as a graphic designer between October 1985 and October 1995.

In October 1995 I was asked to reconstruct some documents by Mr Martin Bashir, a reporter on Panorama. Reconstructing documents was not unusual as I had previously been asked to ‘reconstruct’ documents for the use of filming on Panorama. At no time did Mr Bashir explain to me what the documents were for.

Mr Bashir visited my home and briefed me in person on exactly what these documents were to contain. He then left me to complete the job alone. I set up the layout for the documents in his presence, following his explicit instructions. The job took me from 9pm that evening to 7am the next morning.

I was recently shown a copy of the document. I can confirm it contained the following details:

The documents were in the form of two pages of a bank statement. The first page, dated March 1994, shows a single credit from News International for £4,000. The second page, dated two months later, shows a single credit of £6,500 from Penfolds Consultants (Jersey).

The figures I was initially given did not make mathematical sense to me, but after a telephone conversation with Mr Bashir, that was corrected. The bank account statement was from the National Westminster Bank in North Street, Brighton. The account holder was an Alan Waller and Robert Harper, trading as Weider Health and Fitness.

The material was made up from scratch, which involved me reconstructing every element using an Apple Mac desktop computer. I printed it out on a black and white inkjet printer.

On completing these documents, a BBC driver in a car took an envelope addressed to Mr Bashir from my house to Terminal 2 at Heathrow Airport.

At the time I stressed to Mr Bashir that this was a personal favour, but that I had to invoice Panorama for a nominal amount of £250.00, an invoice which I submitted several days later and for which I have since been paid.

I thought nothing more of this until several weeks later – around the time of the broadcast of the Bashir interview with Princess Diana – when I discussed it with a producer on Panorama. He was surprised by the inclusion of the name Penfolds on the documents as it was a name we recognised from a previous programme.

Around that time I spoke about the matter to Panorama editor Steve Hewlett, both on the phone and personally. He reassured me that the matter had been settled.

I did nothing more at that stage. Shortly after the Panorama Christmas party in December 1995 I noticed that my backup disks of this work had somehow disappeared.

I decided at that point to tell everything I knew to Tim Gardam, the-then head of weekly programmes, and Tim Suter, managing director of weekly programmes.

They told me that from that point on they would handle the matter and they called in Tony Hall, head of news and current affairs to discuss the matter with him. I expressed real worry as to how my involvement in this matter and my decision to consult them could possibly affect my position as someone who had only just gone freelance. They assured me that there would be no repercussions. At that point I went home.

Later that day I received a call from Tim Gardam reassuring me that they had sorted the matter out. Mr Gardam stressed again that there would be no repercussions for me personally. I have decided to make this statement because I have recently heard rumours which have made me feel uneasy and I wish to set the record straight. 

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