Jacintha Saldanha Dead: Australian Radio DJs Behind Prank Call Under Fire

Global Backlash:  Royal Phone Prank
Share
Copy

An outpouring of anger is being directed today at the two Australian radio hosts after the death of a nurse who was caught in the DJs' prank call to hospital where Kate Middleton was treated earlier this week.

Lord Glenarthur, the chairman of King Edward VII's Hospital - the U.K. hospital where the Duchess of Cambridge was receiving treatment, condemned the prank in a letter to the Max Moore-Wilton, chairman of Southern Cross Austereo, the Australian radio station's parent company.

Glenarthur said the prank humiliated "two dedicated and caring nurses," and the consequences were "tragic beyond words," The Associated Press reported.

DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian, radio shock jocks at Sydney's 2Day FM have been taken off the air, but the company they work for did not fire them or condemn them.

"I think that it's a bit early to be drawing conclusions from what is really a deeply tragic matter," Rhys Holleran, CEO of Southern Cross Austereo told a news conference in Sydney. "I mean, our main concern is for the family. I don't think anyone could have reasonably foreseen that this was going to be a result."

Nurse Jacintha Saldanha was found dead Friday morning after police were called to an address near the hospital to "reports of a woman found unconscious," according to a statement from Scotland Yard.

Circumstances of her death are still being investigated, but are not suspicious at this stage, authorities said Friday.

Following news of Saldanha's death, commentary on social media included posts expressing shock, sadness and anger.

A sampling of some of the twitter posts directed at the DJs included: "you scumbag, hope you get what's coming to you" and "I hope you're happy now."

The hospital said that Saldanha worked at the hospital for more than four years. They called her a "first-class nurse" and "a well-respected and popular member of the staff."

The hospital extended their "deepest sympathies" to family and friends, saying that "everyone is shocked" at this "tragic event."

"I am devastated with the tragic loss of my beloved wife Jacintha in tragic circumstances, she will be laid to rest in Shirva, India," Saldanha's husband posted on Facebook.

The duchess spent three days at the hospital undergoing treatment for hyperemesis gravidarum, severe or debilitating nausea and vomiting. She was released from the hospital on Thursday morning.

"The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are deeply saddened to learn of the death of Jacintha Saldanha," a spokesman from St. James Palace said in a statement.

On Friday, Greig and Christian had been gloating about their successful call to the hospital, in which they pretended to be Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles and were able to obtain personal information about the Duchess's serious condition.

"You know what they were the worst accents ever and when we made that phone call we were sure a hundred people at least before us would have tried the same thing," said Grieg on air. She added with a laugh, "we were expecting to be hung up on we didn't even know what to say [when] we got through."

"We got through and now the entire world is talking, of course," said her co-host Christian.

When the royal impersonators called the hospital, Saldanha put through to a second nurse who told the royal impersonators that Kate was "quite stable" and hadn't "had any retching."

The hospital apologized for the mistake.

"The call was transferred through to a ward, and a short conversation was held with one of the nursing staff," the hospital said in a statement. "King Edward VII's Hospital deeply regrets this incident."

"This was a foolish prank call that we all deplore," John Lofthouse, the hospital's chief executive, said in the statement. "We take patient confidentiality extremely seriously, and we are now reviewing our telephone protocols."

The radio station also apologized for the prank call.

"2Day FM sincerely apologizes for any inconvenience caused by the inquiry to Kate's hospital. The radio segment was done with lighthearted intentions," the station said in a statement earlier.

Backlash

The Sydney radio station - famous for its pranks and outrageousness - has suspended all advertising in the face an advertising boycott.

It was warned by Australia's broadcast regulator last spring about its violations of the "decency provision" of the country's broadcast code. Authorities are now looking to see if the radio hosts violated the criminal code, with some calling for charges of involuntary manslaughter.

The prank had been cleared by the Australian radio station's lawyers. CEO Holleran said the DJs followed the company's procedures before broadcasting the call.

"I think the more important question here is that we're very confident that we haven't done anything illegal. Our main concern at this point in time is what has happened is incredibly tragic and we're deeply saddened and we're incredibly affected by that."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...