Australian DJs could face prosecution for royal hoax
British prosecutors will decide whether to pursue charges against two Australian DJs, police said, after a nurse who took a hoax call to a hospital treating Prince William’s pregnant wife Kate apparently killed herself.
Scotland Yard said officers had this week sent a file to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) over the prank earlier this month by presenters Mel Greig and Michael Christian, from Sydney’s 2Day FM radio station.
Indian-born nurse Jacintha Saldanha, 46, was found hanged in her lodgings near King Edward VII’s Hospital in central London, where Catherine was being treated for acute morning sickness, on December 7.
“Following the death of Jacintha Saldanha, officers have liaised with the CPS as to whether any criminal offences had been committed in relation to the hoax call made to King Edward VII’s Hospital in the early hours of Tuesday, 4 December,” Scotland Yard said in a statement.
It said officers submitted a file to the CPS on Wednesday for it to consider whether any potential offences may have been committed by making the hoax call.
British media said no announcement had been made until Saturday because police wanted to be sure they had contacted all the relevant family members of Saldanha.
In England and Wales, the CPS is responsible for deciding whether charges will proceed in criminal cases, while police are responsible for investigating and collecting evidence.
At the nurse’s funeral in India on Monday, her widower Benedict Barboza and the couple’s two teenage children said British police were investigating the tragedy “and they have assured us of a full and fair investigation”.
A London inquest heard last week that Saldanha had been found hanged in staff accommodation and there were no suspicious circumstances over her death. She also had marks on her wrist.
Saldanha left three notes, one of which reportedly criticised colleagues over her treatment at the hospital.
British detectives told the inquest they would be asking their counterparts in the Australian state of New South Wales to help them carry out interviews.
It was not immediately clear how British prosecutors could pursue foreigners for a possible offence originated outside Britain.
Greig and Christian made tearful televised apologies for making the call, in which they posed as Queen Elizabeth II and William’s father Prince Charles and obtained private details of Kate’s medical condition.
Australian police say death threats have been made against the presenters.
The station has cancelled the show which ran the segment, suspended all prank calls and pledged at least Aus$500,000 (US$523,600) to help the grieving family.
Australia’s media watchdog has also opened an investigation into the call.
The hospital has defended itself, saying it offered support to Saldanha and had stressed to her she would not be disciplined for being taken in by what it described as a “cruel trick”.
But British lawmaker Keith Vaz, who has been campaigning on the family’s behalf, said the hospital had so far failed to fully answer a number of their questions.
He published letters he has sent to its chief executive, John Lofthouse, and to the radio station’s owners setting out dozens of detailed queries.
Relatives “still do not have any confirmation of the facts of exactly what happened”, he told Lofthouse, or “written confirmation of the answers” to previous questions.
He asked the radio station why there had allegedly been “no attempt to contact the family and offer support in any way”.
William and Kate, who are expecting their first child, have also stressed that they did not make any complaint to the hospital about the fact that Saldanha had put through the prank call.
[Image via Agence France-Presse]