Bashir whistleblower could be in line for compensation

Martin Bashir's 1995 interview with Princess Diana has been the subject of a public inquiry
PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo

The graphic designer who was asked to fake invoices by Martin Bashir in order to secure an interview with Princess Diana could receive compensation from the BBC.

BBC director-general Tim Davie spoke to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this week, offering Matt Wiessler a “full, unconditional apology”.

When asked whether the BBC would pay compensation to Wiessler for his role as a whistleblower, Davie said there would be a “legal discussion… because clearly we were at fault”.

Wiessler was asked by Bashir to mock up a number of invoices in order to gain the trust of Diana’s brother, Charles Spencer, and ultimately secure the tell-all interview with the princess in 1995.

Last week the Dyson inquiry into how the BBC secured the interview published its findings, criticising the then director-general Tony Hall for failing to act and accusing Bashir of a “serious breach” of the BBC’s editorial guidelines.

Wiessler has since revealed that he was cut off from the organisation and feels he was made “the fall guy” for Bashir’s actions. An internal investigation in 1996 cleared Bashir of any wrongdoing despite the fact that serious concerns had been raised.

Davies told the Today programme: “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.

“That cannot happen again. We have improved processes but I want to look again at things.”

It has also been reported today that the motivation behind re-hiring Bashir in 2016 as a religious correspondent was to “shake up the BBC” and “win awards for its scoops”.

Sources told the paper that the BBC’s deputy director of news, Jonathan Munro, hired Bashir over a coffee, but BBC officials have denied this was the case and said Bashir went through a full interview process.

The BBC is currently investigating the chain of events that led to Bashir being re-hired, and is expected to report on this next week.

Bashir won a BAFTA for the Panorama interview but the BBC has since said it will return the award. He has now left the BBC on health grounds but is still reportedly being paid for a short notice period.

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