Graphic designer who ‘helped trick Princess Diana’ into interview claims BBC new took his statement


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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