Thursday, June 20, 2024
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Oz RJs apologise for nurse’s death

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Melbourne: Australian radio presenters, who made a prank call to a London hospital treating pregnant Princes Kate, on Monday sobbed and spoke of being “shattered, gutted, heartbroken” on hearing the news of the death of an Indian-origin nurse and apologised for their actions.

Radio station 2Day FM presenters Mel Greig and Michael Christian said they were devastated by the news of 46-year-old Jacintha Saldanha’s death, according to media reports here.

When asked how they reacted when told of the death of Saldanha, the mother of two, both DJs broke down in tears.

While Christian said he was “shattered, gutted, heartbroken”, Greig replied it was “gut wrenching”, the worst phone call of her life.

“Our deepest sympathies are with the family and the friends (of Saldanha),” Christian said. “It came into my head that I just wanted to reach out to them (the family), give them a big hug and say sorry. I hope they’re OK, I really do,” Greig said.

The two presenters were interviewed by Channel Nine and the Seven Network.

Greig and Christian posing as Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles made the call which was received by Saldanha at London’s King Edward VII Hospital. She put them through to a colleague who divulged details of the pregnant Kate’s health conditions.

Saldanha was subsequently found dead under mysterious circumstances.

According to ‘The Age’, their partial transcript pre-recorded interview with A Current Affair, will be screened tonight. The host Tracey Grimshaw asked who came up with the idea for the prank call. “It was just the team sitting down before the show – just had the idea for just a simple harmless phone call,” Christian said. “… when we thought about making a call, it was going to go for 30 seconds. We were going to be hung up on, and that was it,” Christian said.

Greig said: “We thought a hundred people before us would’ve tried it. We thought it was such a silly idea and the accents were terrible and not for a second did we expect to speak to Kate, let alone have a conversation with anyone at the hospital. We wanted to be hung up on.”

Christian was adamant the effect of the prank call could not have been foreseen.

“These prank calls are made every day, on every radio station in every country around the world and they have been for a long time and no-one could’ve imagined this to happen,” he said.

Grimshaw told Fairfax Media this afternoon that the interview was “very intense” with a lot of people in the room, including radio station staff and supporters.

Grimshaw said she felt sympathy for the pair. “They’re at a certain point on the food chain. There are other people who made the decision to put it to air, it wasn’t live to air, there was a decision made after that prank call was recorded to put it to air, and virtually all the focus has been on them,” Grimshaw said.

She said she was mindful that anyone in their situation would be fragile and the interview was a chance for the hosts to say what they wanted to say.

Meanwhile, the boss of 2Day FM on Monday said that staff from the station followed proper procedures and had tried at least five times to contact those involved in the prank call. “It is absolutely true to say that we actually did attempt to contact those people [the nurses] on multiple occasions,” company’s chief executive Rhys Holleran said. “We rang them up to discuss what we had recorded. Before it went to air? Absolutely, we attempted to contact them on no less than five occasions,” he said.

Owner of 2Day FM Southern Cross Austereo on Monday announced cancellation of the Hot 30 show and issued a company-wide suspension of prank calls. Southern Cross Austereo chairman Max Moore-Wilton, in a letter to the chairman of King Edward VII’s Hospital, assured that the company will cooperate with any investigation. Scotland Yard is understood to have asked police in Sydney for assistance, with a view to interviewing the two DJs ahead of an inquest into Saldanha’s death. (PTI)

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