Melbourne: Two Australian radio presenters who made a prank call inquiring about the medical condition of a pregnant Kate Middleton have been taken off air, a day after an Indian-origin nurse who transferred their hoax call was found dead in a suspected suicide.
The unconscious body of Jacintha Saldanha, 46, was found on Friday morning at an address yards away from King Edward VII Hospital in London. The CEO of the company that owns embattled radio station '2Day FM' has defended the presenters involved in the royal prank phone call, saying there was no way they could have foreseen the tragic outcome of their actions, the Australian Associated Press reported.
Rhys Holleran, CEO of Southern Cross Austereo, said the presenters behind the call, Mel Greig and Michael Christian, were "completely shattered" by the nurse's death. The radio station has pulled the pair off air, he said, as a mark of respect. Jacintha answered the hoax call at 5.30 am on Wednesday morning, and was helping out on reception at the time of the prank. Giggling DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian were pretending to be the British Queen and Prince Charles and asked her if they could be put through to Kate.
Jacintha connected them to another nurse who gave details of Kate's condition, who was suffering from acute morning sickness at the London hospital. The exact cause of death remained unclear. However, media has indicated that the woman appeared to have killed herself. Holleran refused to specify whether the nurse's permission was sought before the segment aired, or at what point the company obtained legal advice.
He described the nurse's death as "a tragic event that could not have reasonably been foreseen ... we are confident we haven't done anything illegal". News of the nurse's death has prompted a furious outpouring against the radio station and the two presenters involved. Holleran did not however say if Austereo was now concerned about losing its broadcasting licence.