“Shattered”: The Australian DJs Behind Royal Prank Call Apologize

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REUTERS/Southern Cross Austereo/Handout

2day FM radio hosts Mel Greig, left, and Michael Christian, pose in Sydney in this picture obtained by Reuters on Dec. 8, 2012.

The two Australian radio hosts at the heart of the royal hospital prank call that is believed to have led to the death of nurse Jacintha Saldanha say they are “gutted and heartbroken.”

In their first televised interviews since the death, with Australia’s “A Current Affair” and rival program “Today Tonight”, presenters Mel Greig and Michael Christian wept openly as they spoke about the nurse.

(MORE:  Scrutiny Builds at Radio Station That Prank Called London Hospital)

Jacintha Saldanha, a nurse at the Kind Edward VII hospital in London, died last week in what is believed to be a suicide. The 46-year old nurse was working on reception when on Tuesday morning she answered a phone call from the two Australian presenters. The prank involved Greig impersonating the Queen and asking about the health of the Duchess of Cambridge, who at the time was being treated for an acute form of morning sickness, hyperemesis gravidarum.

Saldanha put the call through to the Duchess’s ward, where another nurse spoke about the Duchess’s condition. The call was pre-recorded and vetted by lawyers before it was aired to listeners in Sydney on the station 2Day FM. On Friday morning, Saldanha was found unconscious in her nurse’s residence not far from the hospital. Paramedics attempted to revive her, but she was pronounced dead at the scene.

(MORE: Family Grieves for Nurse Who Died After Royal Prank Call)

Both Greig and Christian, who have been receiving counseling following the news, have faced public backlash, including in India, where Saldanha hails from, after the suspected suicide was reported. Copycat pages have been set up of the radio station’s website, including one that asked users to vote in a poll on whether they would commit suicide if they received a prank call.

Asked if they remember the first time they heard the news, Greig responded that it was a moment she has “not stopped thinking about since it happened.” She wept as she recalled that her first question had been, “Was she a mother?”

(MORE: Kate’s Baby: What the Future Holds)

Both Greig and Christian appeared shell-shocked as they explained that the turn of events was something they believe was unforeseeable. “It was never meant to go that far,” said Greig. “It was meant to be a silly little prank that so many people had done before. This wasn’t meant to happen.” Christian added that the stunt was not meant to cause upset, and that the “joke was always on us. We assumed that with the voices we put on, that was the gag, it was on us.”

(MORE: Q&A: Dealing With a Sister’s Suicide)

The radio station’s parent company, Southern Cross Austereo, said that staff had tried five times to get in touch with the nurses who were on the call to ask their permission to broadcast the prank. In a statement on its website, the company announced that there would be a “comprehensive review of relevant company policies and processes” and that it will “fully cooperate with any investigations.” Its chief executive officer Rhys Holleran apologized to Saldanha’s family for their loss.

Friends and family are currently comforting Saldanha’s two teenage children and husband, who reside in Bristol, England. The hospital has established a memorial fund in her name, and an inquest into the apparent suicide is expected to open in the next few days.

14 comments
AnnMiddleton
AnnMiddleton like.author.displayName 1 Like

I listened to a recording of the call. To a native English speaker it was obviously a hoax. The nurse who gave the information should have not been fooled with by those over the top imitations of Charles and the queen. My guess is that since English was most likely Mrs. Saldanha's second language she didn't pick up on the deception and put the call the call through to the nurse in the room who should have instantly realized she was talking to a couple of charlatans. Poor taste and bad decisions...yes. Criminal...probably not unless there is a specific law which prohibits seeking confidential information to which one is not entitled. That Mrs. Saldanha was so distraught that she ended  her own life indicates that the hospital's HR dept was overly punitive over the incident or that she was emotionally fragile to begin with, or maybe both. This story is more complex than it appears.

sassytooyou
sassytooyou

they are totally creepy. they keep throwing themselves into the media for sympathy and its weird.

jbrl235
jbrl235

One could have sympathy for the DJ's if this was the only time they did something like this.  The DJ's and their station have apparently done worse stuff and have been on probation twice apparently. This may have been relatively milder compared to their other pranks, but the consequences were far worse. This one blew up in their faces, as inevitably one of their "pranks" eventually would.  Given that context, I have no sympathy for them whatsoever. They and Rhys Holloran's radio station better lawyer up even as they shed a few crocodile tears.

sassytooyou
sassytooyou

you dont prank a hospital, police department, or the fire department. pleeeeese dont appologize to the public appologize to the Duchess and her nurses family.  dont lie dont blame other people stop it.no one thinks its funny no one thinks its right.  

Potemkin
Potemkin

The Killer DJ's did not have the legal right to air their prank call in the first place; Australia's own radio rules say they should have obtained consent from both nurses and identified themselves to the nurses before they could air the prank.  The Killer DJ's did not have the right to air the interview but the station's lawyers gave them the go-ahead.  The family will be able to sue the DJ's for having illegally aired the prank without the nurses permission.  The laws were put in place in Australia after this very same radio station forced a 14 year old girl to confess on air that she'd been raped at age 12.  This station has a long history of questionable and illegal behavior.

BobSheepleherder
BobSheepleherder like.author.displayName 1 Like

"Didn't mean for it to go that far" ... how many times have we heard that? Usually it's just an injury, this time somebody's dead. Sad. Even more sad is that "I'm sorry" really doesn't cut it, particularly when children are involved.

ShamsAci
ShamsAci like.author.displayName 1 Like

Well, besides apologizing for the serious cheap  joke  of the two Australian radio hosts at the heart of the royal hospital prank call that is believed to have led to the death of nurse Jacintha Saldanha, they must compensate the diseased nurse's family members she left bereaved to help them bear the loss of losing her in a sudden because of their folly.

DanMan'99
DanMan'99

Okay, I commented on the first post and made a joke about gullible nurses. I am incredibly sorry. The two talk show hosts have expressed their great sorrow and displeasure. However, there is reason to believe that the nurse who killed herself would have been emotionally conflicted or unstable. That's the last prank call that those two do. It was foolish and shouldn't have been done.

sassytooyou
sassytooyou

@DanMan'99 

maybe the nurse was in the uk on a work visa and her entire family will be deported if she is fired. maybe she was the only one working in her family in a country that is one of the most expensive cost of living in the world. yeah maybe they are just creepy and she worked all her life for her career only to have it marred by a couple of thoughtless wierdo's.

sassytooyou
sassytooyou

@DanMan'9

sorry for the tone but there are sick people at the hospital its kind of were they go. soooo its not a place to prank at.

MyNwo
MyNwo like.author.displayName 1 Like

'unforeseeable' - so at no point did the station think, 'we are likely to humiliate a lowish paid worker in a country where nurses especially have been under threat of losing their jobs with the cut backs, and we might therefore very likely ruin that persons career at least in the short term all in the name of a cheap laugh' -  why does that sound unreasonable to think they should have thought that?  

wandmdave
wandmdave

@MyNwo This is tragic but yeah that is unreasonable.  How the hell are some radio jockeys in Australia supposed to know the financial situation of nurses literally on the other side of the world or whether who they are calling is overly stressed and susceptible to a breakdown.  You could make the argument that since there are so many unknown variables and since this sort of tragedy can result (no matter how unlikely) that pranking should be outlawed.  Its overkill but it would at least make some sense.

Potemkin
Potemkin

I find it hard to believe that the Killer DJ's didn't know that there is a law in their country that no DJ can air an interview without consent from the participants, and that they have to identifiy themselves as radio station DJ's before they can interview any subject.  I find it even harder to believe that they were illegally obtaining private patient information and violating a patient's legal right to privacy.  Every civilized country has patient confidentiality laws.  Is Australia some kind of backwater where anyone who wants can violate your privacy?

MyNwo
MyNwo

what you are saying is the dj's are ignorant to the worlds economic state, that they are unaware of cycles and effects that have in the recent past even affected their own country, that they can not think deeply enough that their prank would humiliate someone on a global scale, and that they are unable to put themselves in the position of their likely victim i.e think who they are likely to be ringing and what trouble they might then get into. that is one big ask that you are making that they and no one in the stations sign off structure could imagine. i.e. i am saying your defence of them and their station is rather poor. More importantly, if you are going to do a global prank then perhaps you owe the potential likely victim the care to ensure you understand the environment and situation they are likely to be in. otherwise you are being negligent in not extending the same protection you would if the prank had been domestic.