Australian DJs behind royal hoax call taken off air
The Australian disc jockeys responsible for the prank call to a London hospital treating the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge that has been linked to the death of a nurse have been taken off air.
The two, Mel Greig and Michael Christian, called the King Edward VII hospital at 5.30am on Wednesday pretending to be Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles. The call was put through by nurse Jacintha Saldanha, acting as a stand-in receptionist, to a colleague who then gave details of the princess’s recovery from acute morning sickness.
Early yesterday morning, however, Ms Saldanha (46) was found unconscious at a flat near the hospital and could not be revived. Suicide is suspected.
Saying they were “deeply saddened” by the tragedy, the Sydney-based 2Day FM said the presenters would not broadcast until further notice.
The two, who had boasted about their “greatest royal prank ever”, received hateful messages on Twitter after the death of the mother of two was revealed.
Expressing sympathy to the nurse’s family, St James’s Palace emphasised it had not complained about Ms Saldanha’s failure to realise the call was not genuine. “On the contrary, we offered our full and heartfelt support to the nurses involved and hospital staff at all times,” a spokesman said last evening.
Calling for privacy for himself and their two sons, Ms Saldanha’s partner, Benedict Barboza, said they had been “deeply saddened” by the tragedy.
Despite apologising for causing upset, the radio station continued to replay the call – which had been vetted by lawyers – for the past two days.
The hospital, which treats many royals, said it had supported Ms Saldanha following “a cruel hoax” and she had not been disciplined in any way.
Lord Justice Brian Leveson, who recommended tougher rules for the British Press last week, criticised the station during a visit to Sydney hours before news of the tragedy broke.