Royal Nurse Hoax DJ’s May Be Probed By UK Police: Radio Station Blasts ‘Witch Hunt’
Following the suspected suicide of nurse Jacintha Saldanha, two days after she transferred a prank call made to the hospital that treated the Duchess of Cambridge, reportedly UK police may question the two DJ’s responsible for the call.
So far, UK police have spoken to staff at the Australian high commission in London in what is thought to be the first stage in an investigation ahead of an inquest into the untimely death of 46-year-old Saldanha.
The UK’s Guardian newspaper reports that the Metropolitan police want to “ensure police in New South Wales assist” in that investigation. Nick Kaldas, the deputy commissioner for New South Wales police, has confirmed the request.
“It hasn’t been indicated to us that an offence has occurred and [the Met] have not actually asked for anything yet,” said Kaldas. “They’ve simply touched base, let us know of their interest and they will get back to us if they actually want something done.”
A spokesman for the Australian force has since said they will do all they can to help the British investigation.
It’s believed the Met may want to find out if there are parts of the prank telephone call that were not broadcast on the 2Day FM show. Mel Grieg and Michael Christian made the call last Tuesday after pretending to be the Queen and Charles, Prince of Wales.
After first speaking to Saldanha, the DJ’s were transferred to the Duchess of Cambridge’s personal nurse, who then revealed details of the Duchess’s morning sickness condition.
Adding to the now raging media storm, the owner of the Sydney radio station has blasted what he calls a “witch hunt” by the British press against Grieg and Christian.
Describing the backlash as “ferocious,” Sandy Kaye, a spokeswoman for Southern Cross Austereo — the parent company of 2Day FM — told the Sydney Morning Herald:
“The backlash is just ferocious. Australia seems to be much more balanced. In the UK it’s like they’re on a witch-hunt. It’s intense and what’s incredible to me is it’s so much easier for the British media to have us as the target. They haven’t once looked at the hospital.”
Amid the overwhelmingly critical response on social media sites, the DJ’s have been put on indefinite leave from 2Day FM and are said to be receiving “intensive psychological counselling.”
Rhys Holleran, chief executive of Southern Cross Austereo, told Australia’s The Sunday Times newspaper:
“Everyone who knows Mel [Greig] fears for her mental state. There are very real fears she could self-harm, and nobody wants that.”
Austereo spokeswoman, Kaye, said the two presenters “have expressed a desire to speak. We haven’t ascertained when they’re ready for that and how we’re going to organize that, but they certainly want to.”
Since the news of Saldanha’s death on Friday morning, numerous advertisers have pulled their business from 2Day FM. As a result, the radio station had suspended all commercials for the time being as “a mark of respect”.
Over the weekend Austereo held an emergency board meeting in response to the written blasting sent to its chairman Max Moore-Wilton from Lord Glenarthur, the Chairman of Edward VII Hospital.
In that letter, sent on Saturday morning, Lord Glenarthur called Saldana’s death “tragic beyond words” and said 2Day FM’s “premeditated and ill-considered actions” led to the “humiliation” of Saldanha and the other nurse involved.
Reportedly, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), who have received complaints from around the world, is considering whether the behavior of the radio station constitutes a breach of the commercial radio code of practice.
Austereo’s CEO, Holleran, insists there was nothing illegal about the hoax call. In addition he has said the presenters will not be sacked. In a press conference on Saturday, Holleran said:
“We will make sure their wellbeing is the priority for us. We have internally made sure that their needs are addressed and counselling is certainly part of that offer.”
Describing prank calls as something that have “been going for decades and decades,” Holleran added, “no one could reasonably have foreseen” what was to come.
Ms Saldana is survived by her husband Benedict Barboza, 49, and their teenage son and daughter, aged 14 and 16.
In a statement the Saldanha family said: ”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.”
A postmortem examination of Ms Saldanha’s body is due to take place this week ahead of an inquest. Scotland Yard police have said her death is not being treated as suspicious.