Hoax DJs ‘gutted’ by death of nurse

The Australian DJs behind the hoax call to the hospital that treated Kate Middleton said they were “gutted, shattered, heartbroken” by the death of a nurse they had duped.

In emotional television interviews on Australian TV, Mel Greig and Michael Christian insisted their prank call to the King Edward VII’s Hospital had “a tragic turn of events no one could have predicted or expected”.

A tearful Greig, who was comforted by Christian, told Today Tonight on Australia’s Channel Seven: “There’s nothing that can make me feel worse than what I feel right now. And for what I feel for the family.

“We’re so sorry that this has happened to them.”

The 2Day FM hosts fooled nurse Jacintha Saldanha into believing they were Britain’s queen and prince of Wales and the hospital worker transferred them to a colleague who described Kate’s condition in detail.

Ms Saldanha, a 46-year-old mother of two, was found dead on Friday in what appeared to be a suspected suicide.

The nurse’s brother Naveen said his sister was a devout Roman Catholic and would have been “devastated” by her unwitting role in the breach of medical confidentiality.

Her partner Benedict Barboza, 49, and their teenage son and daughter, aged 14 and 16, are being comforted by relatives and friends.

Southern Cross Austereo, the parent company of 2Day FM, said a review of the incident had found the production team had made several attempts without success to discuss the prank call with the central London hospital.

However, a spokeswoman for the King Edward VII’s Hospital said: “Following the hoax call, the radio station did not speak to anyone in the hospital’s senior management or anyone at the company that handles our media inquiries.”

In the Today Tonight interview Greig said: “I remember my first question was, ‘Was she a mother?’

“I have thought about this a million times in my head, that I just wanted to reach out to them and just give them a big hug and say sorry.

“I hope they are OK, I really do.”

A sombre and downcast Christian added: “I just hope that they get the love, the support, the care that they need.”

In a second interview on the Nine Network, the DJs said they had never expected their fake call would be put through to Kate’s ward.

They said they expected it to last 30 seconds, get told off, and have the phone hung up in their ear.

A distraught Greig said: “Not for a second did we expect to speak to anyone. We expected to be hung up on.”

The pair said their greatest concern now was for the family of Ms Saldanha.

Greig said: “I wanted to just reach out to them and to give them a big hug and say sorry.

“Not a minute goes by that we don’t think about the family and what they are going through, and the thought we may have played a part is gut-wrenching.”

Christian told Nine’s A Current Affair programme: “It was something that was just fun and light-hearted and a tragic turn of events no one could have predicted or expected.

“We are shattered, heartbroken, and our deepest sympathy goes to the family, friends and all those people affected.

“Mel and myself are incredibly sorry for the situation and what’s happened.”


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