Radio station: We tried to contact hospital five times
Monday, December 10, 2012
The Australian radio station embroiled in the royal baby hoax scandal has said it tried to make contact with the hospital again after recording the prank call.
By Arj Singh, Dominic Harris and Stephen Rogers
In an interview on a Melbourne radio station aired late last night, Rhys Holleran, the chief executive of Austereo, owners of 2Day FM, said his team had rung the King Edward VII hospital in London five times before airing the conversation about the health of Kate Middleton.
He said he believed the station’s staff had carried out the appropriate level of duty while performing the prank.
The station is reviewing its broadcasting practices and will help with investigations into the suspected suicide of nurse Jacintha Saldanha following the broadcast.
The owners of 2Day FM spoke out after police in Britain confirmed that officers had contacted their Australian counterparts over the death.
Presenters Mel Greig and Michael Christian, who made the prank call that duped Ms Saldanha into revealing details about the Duchess of Cambridge’s health, have apologised and also expressed a desire to speak about the tragedy.
Ms Saldanha, aged 46, apparently took her own life following the incident at the the central London hospital.
Scotland Yard have contacted police in Sydney and it is understood they may wish to interview the two DJs.
A spokeswoman for Austereo, said the presenters want to speak out about Ms Saldanha’s death. “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.”
Both Ms Greig and Mr Christian have so far remained tight-lipped, and are receiving “intensive psychological counselling” to deal with the tragedy.
The pair are on indefinite leave from the radio station, and have been bombarded with abusive and threatening messages on social media websites.
Nick Kaldas, deputy commissioner for New South Wales Police, told Sky News that Scotland Yard have “touched base” with Australian police.
He confirmed they had been in contact but said it had not been indicated by Scotland Yard that the DJs had committed an offence.
The Metropolitan Police also confirmed they had spoken to their counterparts in Sydney.
Scotland Yard said a postmortem examination is due to be held this week and an inquest opened and adjourned at Westminster Coroner’s Court.
The death is not being treated as suspicious.
Meanwhile, Austereo’s chairman, Max Moore- Wilton, replied to a letter from Lord Glenarthur, chairman of King Edward VII’s Hospital, in which he called for the “truly appalling” broadcast to “never be repeated”.
In his reply, Mr Moore-Wilton described the events of the past few days as “tragic”, but added: “As we have said in our own statements on the matter, the outcome was unforeseeable and very regrettable.”
The Australian Communications and Media Authority, which regulates radio broadcasting, confirmed it had received complaints from all around the world, and said it was considering whether it should launch an investigation into whether the presenters breached the commercial radio code of practice.
Sources told the Press Association an investigation was “likely” to be opened into the broadcast.
Ms Saldanha was pronounced dead on Friday morning at staff accommodation close to the hospital.
She had answered the presenters’ call and, believing they were members of the royal family, put them through to another nurse who described Kate’s condition in detail.
Ms Saldanha’s family were being comforted by relatives and friends at their terrace home at Greystoke Avenue, Southmead, Bristol. A friend said Ms Saldanha’s partner Benedict Barboza, 49, and their teenage son and daughter, aged 14 and 16, were “very, very shocked and unhappy at the tragedy”.
In a statement last night, Ms Saldanha’s family said: “We as a family are deeply saddened by the loss of our beloved Jacintha. We would ask that the media respect our privacy at this difficult time.”
Ms Saldanha is originally from Mangalore in south- west India, The Sunday Telegraph said, where her family spoke of their heartache. Her mother-in-law, Carmine Barboza, told the paper of the moment she heard of Ms Saldanha’s death from her son.
She told the newspaper: “He was crying and couldn’t speak much. We got a call last night from Benedict informing us that Jacintha had died.”
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