No charges over Australian radio show royal hoax call to Duchess of Cambridge

CPS said today there was no evidence to support a charge of manslaughter

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The Independent Online

The two Australian DJs responsible for a prank call to the hospital treating the Duchess of Cambridge will not be prosecuted, the CPS has said.

Australian DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian posed as the Queen and the Prince of Wales in the call to the King Edward VII's hospital in central London, where the Duchess of Cambridge was being treated for sickness relating to her pregnancy.

A nurse who spoke to the DJs, Jacintha Saldanha, was found dead three days after taking the call.

The CPS said today there was no evidence to support a charge of manslaughter.

Malcolm McHaffie, deputy head of special crime at the CPS, said: "As is well known, on December 4 2012 Mel Greig and Michael Christian, both radio presenters in Australia, made a telephone call to the King Edward VII's Hospital in London, where the Duchess of Cambridge was receiving treatment, in which they pretended to be members of the Royal Family.

"During the course of the call, private information about the Duchess's health was given, in good faith, to Ms Greig and Mr Christian and the call was later played on a radio station in Australia.

"Subsequently, Jacintha Saldanha, a nurse at the hospital who had initially taken the call but who had not herself passed on the information, tragically took her own life."

He said Scotland Yard provided the CPS with a file of evidence on December 19 and asked advice on whether a prosecution should be brought.

"Having carefully reviewed the evidence currently available, we have concluded that there is no evidence to support a charge of manslaughter and that, although there is some evidence to warrant further investigation of offences under the Data Protection Act 1998, the Malicious Communications Act 1988 and the Communications Act 2003, no further investigation is required because any potential prosecution would not be in the public interest," he said.

Mr McHaffie said the CPS had taken into account, among other matters, that it is not possible to extradite people from Australia on the potential offences in question.

He also said it considered that "however misguided, the telephone call was intended as a harmless prank".

"The consequences in this case were very sad. We send our sincere condolences to Jacintha Saldanha's family."

The parent company of 2Day FM, which broadcast the show, Southern Cross Austereo has since cancelled the radio show - the Hot 30 Countdown, replacing it with a new programme called The Bump.

Rhys Holleran, chief executive of Southern Cross Austereo, was reported as saying the show's hosts, Christian and Greig, would return to work "when the time is right".

John Lofthouse, chief executive at King Edward VII's Hospital, said: "This morning we have learned that the Crown Prosecution Service has issued a statement regarding hoax calls to our hospital.

"We have no further comment on this matter.

"The consequences of that hoax call are well known, and tragic.

"We will continue to support the family of much-loved nurse Jacintha Saldanha during what continues to be a very sad time."