Hospital says it was not contacted by radio station
The London hospital where Jacintha Saldanha worked as a nurse before apparently taking her own life has disputed claims by an Australian radio station that it tried to contact hospital managers before broadcasting a prank call.
Rhys Holleran, chief executive of Southern Cross Austereo – which owns 2Day FM, the station that broadcast last week’s hoax in which Mel Greig and Michael Christian impersonated Queen Elizabeth to acquire details of the Duchess of Cambridge’s acute morning sickness – said the station attempted to contact King Edward VII hospital “no less than five times” before broadcasting.
“It is absolutely true to say that we actually did attempt to contact those people on multiple occasions,” Mr Holleran told Fairfax Media. “We rang them to discuss what we had recorded,” he said, adding that this was done before the recorded prank went to air.
“Absolutely. We attempted to contact them on no less than five occasions. We wanted to speak to them about it.”
But a spokeswoman for the hospital said yesterday: “Following the hoax call, the radio station did not speak to anyone in the hospital’s senior management or anyone at the company that handles our media inquiries.”
The dispute over prior notification comes after the media company’s chairman, Max Moore-Wilton, said it was considering its response to a letter from Lord Glenarthur, chairman of the hospital, in which he called for the “truly appalling” broadcast to “never be repeated”.
A postmortem of Ms Saldanha’s body is due to be held this week and an inquest opened and adjourned at Westminster coroner’s court in central London, said Scotland Yard. The death is not being treated as suspicious.
Both DJs said they had not participated in the vetting of the interview. They said it was standard practice for them to record an item and then hand it over to be assessed by others. Both said they did not know what the vetting process included.
The segment was subject to an internal review, including with 2Day FM’s lawyers, before it went to air.
The host of the Nine programme, Tracey Grimshaw, told Fairfax Media the prerecorded interview was “very intense” with a lot of people in the room including radio station staff and supporters. She said she felt sympathy for the DJs.
“They’re at a certain point on the food chain,” she said. “There are other people who made the decision to put it to air. It wasn’t live to air. There was a decision made after that prank call was recorded to put it to air, and virtually all the focus has been on them,” said Grimshaw.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority, which regulates radio broadcasting, confirmed it had received complaints from all around the world and said it was considering whether it should launch an investigation into whether the presenters breached the Commercial Radio Code of Practice.
Sources indicated that an investigation was “likely” to be opened into the broadcast. The nurse’s devastated family were being comforted by relatives and friends at their terraced home in Southmead, Bristol.
A friend said Ms Saldanha’s partner, Benedict Barboza (49) and their son and daughter, aged 14 and 16, were “shocked and unhappy at the tragedy”.
Ms Saldanha’s family said they were “deeply saddened” and asked for privacy.“We as a family are deeply saddened by the loss of our beloved Jacintha. We would ask that the media respect our privacy at this difficult time,” they said. – (Guardian service)