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Hoax call radio firm makes donation to nurse’s family

By | Published on Monday 15 September 2014

2day FM

The Australian media group at the heart of the hoax call incident involving the hospital treating Kate Middleton in December 2012 has reportedly donated AUS$500,000 – about £278,000 – to the family of the nurse who took her own life after being unknowingly pulled into the stunt, which became a global news story.

As previously reported, nurse Jacintha Saldanha, working at the hospital caring for Middleton, answered the spoof call from Southern Cross Austereo’s 2Day FM station. She then transferred DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian, pretending to be the Queen and Prince Charles respectively, through to the ward caring for Middleton, where another staff member discussed her condition.

2Day FM aired the hoax call without the permission of London’s King Edward VII Hospital or the nurses involved, though subsequently insisted it had tried to get clearance but could not get through to the medical centre. Just days after the incident Saldanha died by suicide, a fact confirmed at an inquest into her death last week, at which Coroner Fiona Wilcox concluded that the call was “clearly pressing on her mind” at the time of the nurse’s death.

Although Southern Cross Austereo has insisted it has no liabilities relating to Saldanha’s death – the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service decided not to press any charges and Wilcox declined to place blame on either 2Day FM or the hospital where the nurse worked – details of the broadcaster’s donation surfaced as the inquest reached its conclusion. The media firm reportedly said that it knew no amount of money could relieve the sense of loss suffered by Saldanha’s relatives, but that it hoped the donation to a trust fund would “help them in the future”.

Although Christian returned to broadcasting on another Southern Cross Austereo radio station not long after the hoax call incident, Greig has stayed away from the airwaves. She appeared at the inquest last week, saying in a tearful and apologetic statement: “This tragedy is always going to stay with me as a constant reminder”.

The former DJ said that she had not been happy with the hoax call being aired, adding in here statement, “I wish I’d tried harder to stop the prank call from airing”.

She went on: “There is a lot to learn from this tragic event. I believe that hospitals and media organisations should look into their procedures and policies to ensure a tragedy like this never happens again. To fellow announcers and DJs I urge you to speak up if you don’t feel comfortable and to consider the feelings of others when trying to make a joke. The joke should always be on us the DJs”.