Australia’s High Court has ruled that two Sydney radio presenters broke the law by airing a prank phone call to a London hospital which led to the suicide of a British nurse.
DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian from 2Day FM made a prank call to London’s King Edward VII Hospital, where the Duchess of Cambridge was being treated for severe morning sickness. In the call, Grieg pretended to be the Queen and Christian posed as Prince Charles.
They rang the hospital and were put through to the Duchess’ ward by nurse Jacintha Saldanha, who later took her own life after the hoax was widely publicised in the British media.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) originally ruled that 2Day FM had breached New South Wales surveillance and broadcast law, considering they did not seek permission from hospital staff prior to calling.
However, 2Day FM were cleared after they appealed, arguing that ACMA did not have the authority to judge criminal actions of broadcasters.
On 4 March, the High Court overturned the appeal, ruling that the media watchdog did in fact have the power to determine whether they had committed a criminal offense.
The radio station faces serious penalties and could now be fined or have its broadcast license suspended or revoked.
2Day FM reportedly said the High Court’s decision “means that there is a serious defect in Australian broadcasting law”.