UK & World News

  • 10 December 2012, 6:39

Royal Prank DJs Break Silence After Tragedy

The radio DJs behind a prank call to the hospital treating the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge have broken their silence after a nurse they duped apparently took her own life.

2Day FM presenters Mel Greig and Michael Christian were posing as the Queen and Prince Charles when they got Jacintha Saldanha to put them through to another nurse, who divulged details of Kate's treatment for severe morning sickness.

Now, they have given what is being described by Australia's Nine Network as a "raw and emotional" interview that is set to be aired within an hour.

In a clip, Ms Greig is seen rubbing tears from her eyes as she says: "I haven't stopped thinking about it since it happened. I remember my first question was 'was she a mother?'"

Mr Christian is reported to have said: "We just had the idea for a simple, harmless phone call.

"We thought about making a call that was going to go on for maybe 30 seconds, and we were going to be hung up on and that was it, as innocent as that."

Sky's Jonathan Samuels said the pair were interviewed in the last couple of hours by two of Australia's main networks.

"I'm told the interviews are raw and emotional," he said. "A third Australian broadcaster was also set to do an interview but during the second interview Mel Greig broke down apparently and bosses here said 'enough is enough, no more interviews'."

Ms Greig is reported to have attempted to defend the pair's actions, saying that prank phone calls are routine in radio.

She said: "These prank calls are made every day, on every radio station, in every country around the world.

"They have been for a long time, no-one could have imagined that this was going to happen."

The pair are on indefinite leave and have been getting "intensive" counselling to deal with the death of Ms Saldanha.

It comes after the boss of the Sydney radio station said five attempts were made to contact London's King Edward VII's Hospital about the prank call before it aired.

Rhys Holleran - head of Southern Cross Austereo, which owns 2Day FM - said he was satisfied that the appropriate checks were carried out before the pre-recorded segment was broadcast.

"It is absolutely true to say that we actually did attempt to contact those people on multiple occasions," he told Fairfax Radio, an Australian broadcaster.

"We rang them up to discuss what we had recorded ... we attempted to contact them on no less than five occasions ... we wanted to speak to them about it."

Mr Holleran did not say whether 2Day FM was given any response.

He said that nobody could have reasonably foreseen the consequences of the hoax, adding however that the station was reviewing its actions after Ms Saldanha, 46, was found dead.

The mother-of-two is believed to have killed herself in the days after the call hit headlines.

The hoax was vetted by lawyers before being aired to listeners in Sydney on Tuesday last week.

Southern Cross Austereo held an emergency board meeting on Sunday to discuss the growing furore, promising to co-operate with any investigations.

Ms Saldanha's death has sparked a massive backlash against the radio station and the two presenters. British police have contacted their Australian counterparts over the death.

But a survey of 11,000 people in Australia found almost two thirds of voters believe the presenters should not be blamed for the tragedy, the Herald Sun said.

Labour MP Keith Vaz met Ms Saldanha's "grief-stricken" husband and children at their family home on Sunday and revealed a memorial service was being planned for next week.

He said: "No words of sympathy can console them."

 A post-mortem examination is due this week.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority, which regulates radio broadcasting, has had complaints from around the world and said it was considering an investigation into whether the presenters breached the commercial radio code of practice.

The Duke of Cambridge pulled out of Sunday night's British Military Tournament to spend time with the Duchess as she recuperates.