London police contact Australian authorities about hoax royal baby call
Published Sunday, December 9, 2012 7:55AM EST
Last Updated Monday, December 10, 2012 12:25AM EST
An Australian radio station says it is reviewing its practices after a London nurse pranked during a widely publicized hoax phone call was found dead.
Meanwhile, Australian authorities confirmed Sunday that they’ve been contacted by London police about a possible investigation into the hoax, which saw two radio DJs impersonate Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles to receive information about the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge, who was being treated for acute morning sickness at the hospital.
The hoax drew attention from around the globe. On Friday, three days after being broadcast, the nurse who accepted the prank call was found dead.
Police have yet to determine Jacintha Saldanha’s cause of death, but it’s widely assumed that the 46-year-old mother of two died because of the stress from the call.
The station’s board of directors called an emergency meeting Sunday to determine its next steps after a number of businesses pulled their advertising from the station.
The 2DayFM DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian have been suspended indefinitely after news broke of Saldanha’s death. Greig and Christian were at the receiving end of a slew of angry and abusive comments via social media and have since disabled their Twitter accounts.
A statement posted on the 2DayFM website said the DJs had agreed not to comment about the situation.
“Southern Cross Austereo 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,” read the statement.
However, word came out on Monday afternoon Australia time that the DJs were scheduled to break their silence on the Australian current affairs program Today Tonight on Monday evening.
MaxMoore-Wilton, chairman of Southern Cross Austereo, which owns the 2DayFM radio station, said Sunday in a letter to the hospital's chairman that the company will co-operate with any investigation.
“It is too early to know the full details leading to this tragic event and we are anxious to review the results of any investigation that may be made available to us or made public,” he wrote. “I can assure you we are taking immediate action and reviewing the broadcast and processes involved.”
“As we have said in our own statements on the matter, the outcome was unforeseeable and very regrettable,” he wrote.
Australian police Sunday confirmed they had been contacted by London police and said they would co-operate.
Meanwhile, the Australian Communications and Media Authority, which regulates radio broadcasting, said it received complaints from around the world and is considering whether it should launch its own investigation.
News of the prank and subsequent death continue to dominate the headlines in Australia and around the world.
“The media has pretty much been saturated with this story and it will probably continue to do so for some time,” Australia-based freelance reporter Tim Stackpool told CTV News Channel on Sunday.
He said the station targets an 18-to-34-year-old demographic and often undertakes prank phone calls.
“It is a bread and butter type of comedy for the radio station to appeal to this demographic,” said Stackpool. “At the end of the call, after the recording stops, we are required by the code of conduct to indicate to the person that it was a hoax and to get their permission to put the recording to air. This being an international situation, I’m guessing that didn’t happen.”
Stackpool said the phone call may have also breached Australia’s Telecommunications Act and Listening Devices Act.
“There’s certainly a lot of the investigation to come,” he said.
With files from The Associated Press