POLL: Austereo reply to hospital rebuke

THE chairman of Southern Cross Austereo has written to the British hospital targeted by a radio station prank phone call saying it is reviewing the broadcast and processes involved.

Max Moore-Wilton led a crisis meeting yesterday  to discuss a stinging letter from Lord Glenarthur, chairman of King Edward VII’s Hospital where British nurse Jacintha Saldanha worked before she died on Friday.

In the reply to Lord Glenarthur, released after the board of Southern Cross Austereo’s meeting, Mr Moore-Wilton wrote he had been ‘‘saddened’’ by recent events, describing them as ‘‘truly tragic’’.

He said that Austereo, which owns Sydney station 2Day FM, would fully cooperate with any investigation into the incident.

‘‘I can assure you were are taking immediate action and reviewing the broadcast and processes involved ... our company joins with you all at King Edward VII’s Hospital and Mrs Saldanha’s family and friends in mourning their tragic loss,’’ Mr Moore-Wilton wrote.

Ms Saldanha had answered the phone at London’s King Edward VII Hospital last week when Mel Greig and Michael Christian rang, pretending to be the Queen and Prince Charles asking for an update on the condition of the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge.

The mother-of-two then transferred the call to a colleague, who went on to give sensitive information to the pair about the duchess, who is suffering from a severe form of morning sickness.

Mr Christian will be best known to Hunter radio listeners as "Nollsy". He anchored Steve and Kim’s breakfast show on NXFM under the pseudonym in 2006 and also hosted afternoon programs at the Newcastle station.

In the letter to Southern Cross Austereo, the chairman of King Edward VII’s Hospital Lord Glenarthur urged Mr Moore-Wilton to  ensure  such  incidents were not repeated.

‘‘King Edward VII’s Hospital cares for sick people, and it was extremely foolish of your presenters even to consider trying to lie their way through to one of our patients, let alone actually make the call,’’ he wrote.

The two presenters behind the stunt are undergoing intensive counselling, having been confronted with a barrage of abuse via social media.

A Southern Cross Austereo spokeswoman said yesterday that Ms Greig and Mr Christian will speak publicly, but the timing will depend on their state of mind as they are currently both described as fragile.

Chief executive Rhys Holleran says there are no  current  plans for Ms Greig and Mr Christian to return to the air.

London’s Metropolitan Police have contacted NSW Police, through the Australian Federal Police, over the prank but the Met had not asked for any action to be taken.

To seek support and information about suicide prevention, contact  Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.  

Christmas loss for nurse’s family

 A RELATIVE of the Indian-born nurse who apparently killed herself after an Australian radio station’s royal hoax call says her family is in shock.

Jacintha Saldanha, 46, had answered the prank telephone call to London’s King Edward VII Hospital, which was treating Prince William’s pregnant wife Catherine for morning sickness.

She had put the call from the station through to a colleague, who relayed details about Kate’s condition that made headlines around the globe. Saldanha was later found dead in staff accommodation.

A member of her family, who live in the town of Shirve, 400 kilometres from the southern city of Bangalore, said they could not believe the mother-of-two could commit suicide.

‘‘We were shocked to hear from her husband [Benedict Barboza] that Jacintha was no more. He did not tell us that she committed suicide,’’ Saldanha’s sister-in-law Irene D’Souza said.

‘‘It is hard to believe Jacintha could commit suicide as she was not the type of woman to do it.’’

D’Souza said Saldanha was planning to travel to India to celebrate Christmas with the family and they were planning a big party.

Lifeline   13 11 14

AAP

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