Prank-call DJs are 'ready to speak out' over death of nurse

Intensive counselling for presenters who hoaxed nurse later found dead

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The two Australian presenters behind the prank call that ended in the death of a nurse at the London hospital treating the Duchess of Cambridge are in an "extremely fragile" state but are keen to speak publicly about the affair.

Mel Greig and Michael Christian, who impersonated the Queen and the Prince of Wales, were receiving intensive counselling after the nurse who took their call, Jacintha Saldanha, was found dead at her apartment on Friday.

According to Southern Cross Austereo (SCA), which owns the 2Day FM station, the distraught pair – who spent the weekend in hiding – want to comment, but a company spokeswoman, Sandy Kaye, said the timing would depend on their state of mind.

Mental-health experts have warned that Greig and Christian could themselves become suicide risks. In an interview on Sky News, London Mayor Boris Johnson said: "I'm sure that the hoaxers will be absolutely full of self-loathing and remorse."

The company said yesterday it was reviewing its practices, as the Metropolitan Police contacted its Australian counterparts to discuss a possible investigation.

The SCA board held a crisis meeting yesterday to discuss a letter from Lord Glenarthur, the chairman of the King Edward VII's Hospital, in which he described 2Day FM's decision to broadcast the pre-recorded hoax call as "truly appalling" and urged the company "to take steps to ensure that such an incident could never be repeated".

In his reply, which was released publicly, the SCA chairman, Max Moore-Wilton, told Lord Glenarthur that the company would co-operate with any investigation. "I can assure you we are taking immediate action and reviewing the broadcast and processes involved," he added.

Scotland Yard said it had contacted officers in New South Wales (NSW) through the Australian Federal Police. Nick Kaldas, the Deputy Commissioner of NSW Police, said the force would co-operate with any request but that the Met had not yet asked for any action to be taken.

Scotland Yard declined to comment further, but the force will make inquiries for the London coroner who will examine the circumstances surrounding the nurse's death. The inquest will open after a post-mortem examination due to be held this week. The death is not being treated as suspicious.

Ms Saldanha, 46, put the presenters' call through to another nurse, who disclosed details of the Duchess's medical condition. The Duchess had been admitted to the hospital with a severe form of morning sickness, prompting a frenzy of media interest as it was the first indication she was pregnant.

SCA is to make a further statement today. Mr Moore-Wilton told Lord Glenarthur: "As we have said in our own statements on the matter, the outcome was unforeseeable and very regrettable… Our company joins with you all at King Edward VII's Hospital and Mrs Saldanha's family and friends in mourning their tragic loss."

Mr Christian is believed to be staying in a central Sydney hotel, while Ms Greig is at an undisclosed location. Ms Kaye said: "They have expressed a desire to speak. We haven't ascertained when they're ready for that and how we're going to organise that, but they certainly want to."

While the DJs' actions have prompted global condemnation, some commentators have argued they are not to blame for Ms Saldanha's death. A Sydney tabloid, The Sunday Telegraph, headlined one of its reports: "Spooked UK media on a witch-hunt."