The owners of the Australian radio station that made a prank call to the London hospital where the Duchess of Cambridge was staying have said they will be co-operate fully with all investigations.
Note: This article is from the Guardian.
The owners of the Australian radio station that made a prank call to the London hospital where the Duchess of Cambridge was staying have said they will be co-operate fully with all investigations after the death of nurse Jacintha Saldanha.
After crisis talks on Sunday morning, Max Moore-Wilton, the chairman of Southern Cross Austereo (SCA), which owns the radio station 2Day FM, sent a letter in reply to a complaint from the King Edward VII hospital protesting in the “strongest possible terms” about the hoax call.
In the letter, Moore-Wilton describes the events of the past few days as “tragic”, saying: “As we have said in our own statements on the matter, the outcome was unforeseeable and very regrettable.”
The letter continues: “It is too early to know the full details leading to this tragic event and we are anxious to review the results of an investigation that may be made available to us or made public. We can assure you that we will be fully co-operative with all investigations. I can assure you that we are taking immediate action and reviewing the broadcast and processes involved.
“Our company joins with you all at King Edward VII’s hospital and Mrs Saldanha’s family and friends in mourning their tragic loss.”
The chairman of the King Edward VII hospital, Lord Glenarthur, had written to the station’s owners saying the death of nurse Saldanha, who received the prank call from the Australian DJs, was “tragic beyond words”.
He said the call “was extremely foolish” and the fact it was pre-recorded and transmitted after the station management’s approval and legal vetting was “truly appalling”. He urged steps be taken to “ensure such an incident could never be repeated”. The board of SCA is not expected to respond to the letter on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the two DJs who made the call remain in hiding and have been receiving “intense psychological counselling” according to SCA spokeswoman Sandy Kaye. She said both Mel Greig and Michael Christian were in an extremely fragile state and were being shielded from social and mainstream media. Both were also being supported by family and colleagues.
“Both presenters made it clear they would like to express their remorse, but our first priority at the moment is their wellbeing,” Kaye said.
Asked if Greig and Christian will comment on what has happened, a spokeswoman 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.”
New South Wales police have been contacted by Scotland Yard in relation to the death of Saldanha. Deputy Commissioner Nick Kaldas said a request for assistance had been passed to the Sydney city central command, the area in which the 2Day FM offices are located.
“I have to stress it hasn’t been indicated to us that an offence has occurred and they have not actually asked for anything yet. They have simply touched base and let us know of their interest. They will get back to us if they want something done,” Kaldas said.
Editorials in Australian Sunday newspapers said the DJs were not responsible for the tragic death.
“While the prank may have been stupid, Mel Greig and Michael Christian surely did not mean to hurt anyone,” said the editorial in the Rupert Murdoch-owned Sunday Telegraph newspaper. “Prank calls are among the oldest tricks in radio. Occasionally funny, mostly cringeworthy, they usually result in mere pointless humiliation of a hapless victim.”
A columnist for the Fairfax-owned Sun Herald, Peter FitzSimons, said the death of Saldanha was a “tragedy of unspeakable proportions”.
“But to those – particularly the British media – who are firing vicious epithets at the two radio DJs who are the public face of that prank call, blaming them for the tragedy, please get a grip,” he wrote. “What precisely are they guilty of? Making a prank call? Which DJ in the history of the world hasn’t’ made prank calls?
He said there was not a shred of evidence there was any malice in the prank call. “Who could possibly have thought that a silly prank call like that – one of thousands of prank calls, no doubt, made by radio stations around the world on that day – would have led to the young woman taking her life?” wrote FitzSimons.
On Saturday, a spokesman for the Australian prime minister, Julia Gillard, said: “This is a terrible tragedy. Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this time.”
Saldanha lived with her husband, Benedict Barboza, 49, and their children in Bristol, returning to the West Country when she was not working. He wrote on Facebook: “I am devastated with the tragic loss of my beloved wife Jacintha in tragic circumstances. She will be laid to rest in Shirva (the town where she was born).”
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