It was a light-hearted joke that turned into a stern kick to the stomach.
Mel Greig and Michael Christian, the 2Day FM Australian DJs behind the prank involving London nurse Jacintha Saldanha who later committed suicide, have spoken up in their first public on-camera interview on Sunday.
The interview took place on a program called “Today Tonight,” where Greig and Christian sat side-by-side, appearing sick with shock at the way things had played out.
“We’re still trying to get our heads around everything, trying to make sense with the situation,” said Christian, who described his emotional state as being “gutted.”
Wiping away tears, Greig explained that the prank was “designed to be stupid,” saying that they had never expected for anyone to take them seriously.
“If we played any involvement in her death, then we’re very sorry for that and time will only tell,” she said.
Recording a phone conversation without notifying the other party is illegal in Australia, but according to a statement given to The Sydney Morning Herald by Southern Cross Austereo, the carrier of 2Day FM, “several attempts” were made to discuss the segment with the hospital prior to air.
“The segment was referred to an internal review process which included internal legal review and authorization was granted to broadcast,” the company’s statement reads.
SCA has issued a company-wide suspension of all prank calls moving forward and Greig and Christian’s Hot 30 show has been cancelled. The radio duo, which has already been on an indefinite suspension, will not return to airwaves until further notice.
An Australian opinion poll revealed less than half of listeners blame the personalities for Saldanha's apparent suicide.
Regardless, Keith Vaz, a nurse connected with the situations, tells the BBC that the Saldanha’s family is “devastated” and “grief stricken” in the wake of the tragedy.
“They simply cannot understand or cope with what is happening,” said Vaz.
As we previously reported, the Aussie DJs called King Edward VII’s Hospital and pretended to be Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles. Saldanha answered the call and connected the pranksters with another staffer who proceeded to give out personal information about the queen.
On December 7, Saldana was found unconscious near the hospital and she was unable to be revived. She had two teenaged children.
“I miss you. I loveee you,” her 14-year-old daughter wrote on Facebook.
In the wake of her death, St. James’s Palace released the following statement to HS:
“The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are deeply saddened to learn of the death of Jacintha Saldanha. Their thoughts and prayers are with Jacintha Saldanha’s family, friends and colleagues at this very sad time.”
The original interview with Today Tonight can be viewed here: