(SYDNEY) — The Australian radio station involved in the phone prank with the London hospital caring for Kate Middleton says it made at least five attempts to obtain permission from the nurses involved to broadcast the taped conversation.
The prank last Tuesday by two 2DayFM DJs pretending to be Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles, looking to speak to Kate Middleton, who had been admitted to the hospital due to illness related to her pregnancy, took an unexpected deadly twist on Friday when nurse Jacintha Saldanha was found dead of an apparent suicide. An exact cause of death will be determined by a medical inquest.
In an interview with the Melbourne radio station 3AW, Rhys Holleran, whose company Southern Cross Austereo owns 2DayFM, said his staff had tried numerous times to contact Saldanha and another nurse at the hospital to obtain their permission before the phone prank aired.
During a news conference on Saturday, Holleran said the prank had been cleared by the station’s lawyers and the DJs followed the company’s procedures before broadcasting the call. He said no laws were broken.
“I think the more important question here is that we’re very confident that we haven’t done anything illegal. Our main concern at this point in time is what has happened is incredibly tragic and we’re deeply saddened and we’re incredibly affected by that,” Holleran said Saturday.
Holleran said the nurse’s death was tragic and regrettable, but it “could not have been foreseen.”
The DJs involved, Mel Greig and Michael Christian, have both been taken off the air, and their Twitter and Facebook accounts have been deleted.
The two gave a tearful interview on Monday with Australia’s Channel 9 and apologized to the family of Jacintha Saldanha. The DJs said they had expected to be hung up on, and never imagined their call would go through.
Greig said, “We thought a hundred people would have tried before us. …We wanted to be hung up on.”
“I don’t think anyone could have expected or foreseen what could have happened. It was completely innocent,” Christian said.
She told Channel 9, “It was just something that was fun and light-hearted and a tragic turn of events that I don’t think anyone had expected.”
When asked how they found out about Saldanha’s death, Greig broke down in tears, and Christian answered for both of them, saying, “We both found out about the same time…”
Greig added, “It was the worst phone call I’ve ever had in my life.”
When asked about their reaction to the news, Christian described himself as being “shattered, gutted” and “heartbroken,” adding, “Obviously our deepest sympathies are with the families and friends of all those affected.”
Greig added, “There’s not a minute that goes by that we don’t think about her family. And the thought that we may have played a part in that is gut-wrenching…”
When asked what they wanted to say to Saldanha’s family, Greig broke down in tears and said, “I’ve wanted to just reach out to them and say sorry, I hope they’re okay. I really do.”
Christian added, “I can’t imagine how they feel right now. We’re shattered. And just know that it was never intended. There was no malice.”
Kate Middleton came down with another bout of acute morning sickness over the weekend. She has not been hospitalized, but her illness prompted Prince William to cancel a public appearance on Sunday so he could stay home with her at Kensington Palace.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Susan Scutti, CNN
Andreas Preuss, CNN