Last week, after a pair of Australian radio DJs successfully prank-called the hospital where Kate Middleton was being treated, the nurse who answered the phone and transferred their call killed herself. Now, the DJs' radio show has been cancelled and the radio station has suspended all prank calls as the DJs insist they are really sorry, BUT: "You prank someone, you record it, then it goes to the other departments to work out what they want to do with it. It's been done for years. It was routine for us. It wasn't anything different."
The revelation that Middleton, the wife of Prince William, was pregnant set off a frenzy of news reports about her extreme morning sickness in what is apparently her first trimester of carrying an heir to the British throne. DJs Michael Christian and Mel Greig decided to call the hospital, King Edward VII Hospital, pretending to be Prince Charles and Queen Elizabeth, inquiring about Middleton's condition. Jacintha Saldanha, a nurse filling in for a receptionist, answered and transferred their call to the attending nurse, who gave details on Middleton's condition. Amazed that their call was put through, the Christian and Greig bragged about their exploits on the radio and online.
Saldanha was apparently tormented by the prank and was found dead on Friday. King Edward VII Hospital said in a statement that Saldanha was an excellent and respected nurse, and added in another release, "The immediate consequence of these premeditated and ill-considered actions was the humiliation of two dedicated and caring nurses who were simply doing their job tending to their patients. The longer-term consequence has been reported around the world and is, frankly, tragic beyond words."
Christian and Greig have been in hiding, after receiving criticism and even death threats. Greig said that upon learning Saldanha killed herself, "The first thing I asked was: "Was she a mother?' If we played any involvement in her death then we’re very sorry for that. We couldn’t foresee what was going to happen in the future." Christian added, "I’m gutted, shattered, heartbroken. We’re still trying to get our heads around everything, trying to make sense with the situation.”
The pair also blamed the radio station for permitting them to air the call, with Greig saying, "It's not up to us to make that decision. We just record it and then it goes to the other departments to work out. I don't know what they then do with it. We just do what we do, which is make those calls" and Christian explaining, "We just made the phone call and that was it. We don't get to make those decisions, we don't get to make those calls, that's done by other people. Our role is just to record and get the audio and wait to be told whether it's OK or not OK."
Radio station 2DayFM chief executive Rhys Holleran said, "We don't claim to be perfect and we always strive to do better. We have initiated a detailed and rigorous review of our policies and procedures to inform any improvements we can make. We are also providing support to our people who are deeply saddened by this tragic and unforseen event."