RADIO presenters Mel Greig and Michael Christian, who prank-called a London hospital where Prince William’s pregnant wife was being treated for acute morning sickness, have been taken off the air following the death of a nurse at the centre of the Royal hoax.
The Australian radio DJs have been told not to comment on the matter which made international news and has been linked to the death of respected nurse and mother Jacintha Saldanha, 46, on Friday.
A statement from 2Day FM’s parent company, Southern Cross Austereo (SCA), said it is “deeply saddened by the tragic news”.
“Chief executive officer Rhys Holleran has spoken with the presenters, they are both deeply shocked and at this time we have agreed that they not comment about the circumstances,” the statement said.
“SCA and the hosts have decided that they will not return to their radio show until further notice out of respect for what can only be described as a tragedy.”
Police are not treating Ms Saldanha’s death as suspicious and numerous British media outlets have labelled it a suicide.
She was unable to be revived after being found unconscious at nursing staff accommodation near London’s exclusive King Edward VII Hospital at 9.35am (local time) on Friday.
Ms Saldanha earlier this week answered a call to the hospital from Greig and Christian posing as the Queen and Prince Charles. She was taken in and passed the call to the ward nurse.
The pair were given confidential details on the condition of the Duchess of Cambridge, who was being treated for acute morning sickness.
“We can confirm that Jacintha was recently the victim of a hoax call …,” hospital chief executive John Lofthouse told reporters on Friday afternoon, confirming her death.
Earlier in the week, Mr Lofthouse described the prank as “foolish” and said the hospital would review its telephone protocol as a result. Ms Saldanha was not disciplined over the incident.
He described Ms Saldanha, married and with two children, as a “first-class nurse who cared diligently for hundreds of patients”.
“Everyone is shocked by the loss of a much-loved and valued colleague. Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with her family and her friends,” he said.
A brief statement from relatives said Ms Saldanha’s family was “deeply saddened by the loss of our beloved Jacintha” and asked for “privacy at this difficult time”.
News of Ms Saldanha’s death was acknowledged by the royal family.
“Their royal highnesses 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,” said a statement issued by St James’s Palace.
A royal aide confirmed to Sky News that no complaint was lodged with the hospital following the prank.
Greig and Christian apologised for their “lighthearted” prank, but have been bombarded with online abuse for their stunt and have since disabled their Twitter accounts. – AAP
* Australian readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.