Home World Europe News Mel Greig and Michael Christian are taken off air following Jacintha Saldanha’s...

Mel Greig and Michael Christian are taken off air following Jacintha Saldanha’s death


The death of Jacintha Saldanha, the nurse who took a hoax call about the Duchess of Cambridge, was a “tragedy”, Australian 2Day FM radio station which broadcast it has said.

Rhys Holleran, chief executive of the company that owns Sydney radio station 2Day FM, said DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian were “completely shattered” by the death of Jacintha Saldanha, 46.

Mel Greig and Michael Christian posed as the Queen and Prince Charles in a call on Tuesday morning.

The station later suspended adverts, and the show has been taken off-air.

Speaking at a press conference in Melbourne, Rhys Holleran, chief executive of Southern Cross Austereo, said he did not think any laws had been broken.

This was in contrast to a statement on Tuesday by hospital chief executive John Lofthouse, who said he had “received advice that what the Australian broadcasters did may well have broken the law”.

Mel Greig and Michael Christian telephoned the hospital early on Tuesday morning, and recorded the call. It was then assessed by the station’s lawyers before being broadcast on 2Day FM.

Jacintha Saldanha, a duty nurse, answered the phone because it was 05:30 GMT and there was no receptionist on duty.

She put the pair through to Kate Middleton’s nurse, who unwittingly revealed details of the pregnant duchess’s medical condition.

The duchess had been admitted on Monday for acute morning sickness, and was discharged on Thursday.

Rhys Holleran told journalists that Mel Greig and Michael Christian’s show would not be returning until further notice.

He said: “This is a tragic event that could not have been reasonably foreseen and we are deeply saddened by it.”

But he added: “I think that prank calls as a craft in radio had been going on for decades. They are done worldwide and no-one could reasonably have foreseen what happened.”

The network later suspended all advertising on 2Day FM until Monday.

The decision was meant as a sign of respect, although with several advertisers, including Australia’s largest supermarket chain, already pulling their adverts, it was more like damage limitation and to avoid further bad publicity.

Mel Greig and Michael Christian are taken off air following Jacintha Saldanha's death

Mel Greig and Michael Christian are taken off air following Jacintha Saldanha’s death

Before the death, the country’s media watchdog, the Australian Communications and Media Authority, had received complaints about the broadcast. Chairman Chris Chapman said: “These events are a tragedy for all involved and I pass on my heartfelt condolences to the family of the deceased nurse in London.

“The ACMA does not propose to make any comments at this stage, but will be engaging with the licensee, Today FM Sydney, around the facts and issues surrounding the prank call.”

In a statement, Jacintha Saldanha’s family said they were “deeply saddened by the loss of our beloved Jacintha”. They have requested privacy from the media.

On Friday, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge said in a statement they were also “deeply saddened” by the death of Jacintha Saldanha, a duty nurse who was married with two children.

And King Edward VII hospital paid tribute to “a first-class nurse who cared diligently for hundreds of patients”.

Jacintha Saldanha – who was staying in hospital accommodation close to hospital – was the person who answered the call from the DJs and was not the nurse who discussed the duchess’s medical condition.

She had not been suspended or disciplined by the hospital.

However, she had felt “very lonely and confused” as a result of what had happened.

Jacintha Saldanha, also known as Jess, is thought to have come to the UK from southern India more than ten years ago and settled in the UK with her partner, 49-year-old hospital accountant Benedict Barboza.

The couple bought their £123,000 three-bedroomed home in 2005 in the Westbury-on-Trym district of Bristol.

After working for the North Bristol NHS Trust, which runs Frenchay and Southmead hospitals, it is believed the nurse chose to apply for a job at King Edward four years ago and appears to have been living in the nursing accommodation ever since.

She has a son called Junal, 16, and daughter, believed to be 14. She stayed in London when she was working before returning to her family on days off.

The St James’s Palace statement said the duke and duchess “were looked after so wonderfully well at all times by everybody at King Edward VII Hospital, and their thoughts and prayers are with Jacintha Saldanha’s family, friends and colleagues at this very sad time”.

A palace spokesman later added that “at no point did the palace complain to the hospital about the incident”.

“On the contrary, we offered our full and heartfelt support to the nurses involved and hospital staff at all times.”

Scotland Yard said officers were called at 09:35 GMT on Friday after reports of a woman found unconscious at an address in Weymouth Street, central London. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police said the death was not being treated as suspicious.