Nurse Jacintha Saldanha 'suicide': Australian DJs Mel Greig and Christian Michael taken off air amid global revulsion at 'sick prank'

  • Mel Greig and Christian Michael banned from show until further notice
  • 2DayFM offers 'deepest sympathies' to Jacintha Saldanha's family
  • Statement follows global revulsion at pair who boasted of prank
  • They were still pictured on station’s site urging listeners to ‘hear latest’
  • Later both closed their Twitter accounts following huge backlash
  • Station's Facebook page has been bombarded with abusive comments
  • Australians waking up to hear the news react with anger over prank

By Anthony Bond

PUBLISHED: 13:04 EST, 7 December 2012 | UPDATED: 16:42 EST, 7 December 2012

Australian radio presenters Mel Greig and Michael Christian have been taken off air this evening following growing global outrage at their ‘sick’ prank call to the Duchess of Cambridge’s hospital.

Following news that Jacintha Saldanha - who transferred the hoax call from reception at the King Edward VII Hospital - was found dead in a suspected suicide, the DJs have been subjected to a torrent of criticism.

The 2DayFM duo were still pictured on the station’s website today urging listeners to ‘hear the latest’ and DJ Christian sent an early hours tweet boasting about the 5.30am hoax call.

Abuse: The Australian radio presenters whose prank call about the Duchess of Cambridge was transferred by nurse Jacintha Saldanha have been bombarded with abuse on Twitter following news of her suspected suicide.

The station has now faced growing calls from around the world to sack the two presenters.  

This evening, the owners of the radio station which employed the duo announced that they will not return to their show until further notice.

It is believed that senior management at 2Day FM were so shocked at the death of Jacintha that bosses have ordered the pair off the air - probably never to return.

A statement from the station owners said: 'Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) and 2Day FM are deeply saddened by the tragic news of the death of the nurse, Jacintha Saldanha from King Edward V11 Hospital and we extend our deepest sympathies to her family, and all that have been affected by this situation around the world.

'CEO Rhys Holleran has spoken with the presenters, they are both deeply shocked, and at this time we have agreed that they not comment about the circumstances.

'SCA 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.'

The radio station said it did not know where the two DJs were at present and it was unclear whether they would be making any further comment about the prank.

A promotion for the hoax interview that was on the station’s website has now been removed.

News of the death broke in the middle of the night in Australia and it was only during the evening London time today  that Australians woke to hear about the tragedy.

It led the news on every radio station, including the national broadcaster, the ABC. It reported there had been an outpouring of anger in the UK and said thousands of people had demanded that the DJs be fired.

Social network: This image shows the Facebook page of 2day FM

Social network: This image shows the Facebook page of 2day FM

Criticism: Some of the abusive comments the radio station has received on Facebook are pictured above

Criticism: Some of the abusive comments the radio station has received on Facebook are pictured above

As news spread around Australia the radio station became bombarded with calls from angry and shocked Australians. Facebook and Twitter was flooded with comments hitting out at the radio station.

When the news was broken by the Daily Mail to a station executive in the dead of night in Australia, she burst into tears and said it couldn’t be true – that the Mail’s call to her must be a hoax.

Assured that the receptionist had been found dead, the spokeswoman, Vicki Heath, could not contain her tears.

Sydney entertainment circles were stunned by the news, a celebrity photographer saying: ‘Britain is going to hate our guts for this.

‘It’s absolutely disgusting what has happened. I didn’t like the prank in the first place and now, to hear that someone has died following it, is going to cast a shadow over all radio DJs here in Australia.’

Many people including a number of celebrities took to Twitter to criticise the DJs.

Following news of the nurse's apparent suicide, the pair have today been subjected to a barrage of criticism on Twitter

Former footballer Stan Collymore: wrote: 'Another suicide. Another family broken, forever asking questions. If you're struggling, please speak to someone, anyone. Stay alive.'

Musician Myleene Klass added:  'Just heard about Nurse Jacintha Saldanha. My mum used to be a nurse.They work such long,hard hours. Poor lady must have been terrified. #RIP.'

The pair remarked during their Hot30 Countdown show how their efforts were the 'easiest prank call ever made'.

The duo have continued to boast about the gag on Twitter while in a video on the radio station's website they laugh and joke about it.

Greig giggles: 'They were the worst accents ever and when we made that phone call, we were sure 100 people at least before us would have tried the same thing.'

Sitting beside her in what appears to be their studio, Christian adds: 'We got through and now the entire world is talking.'

Former footballer Stan Collymore: wrote: 'Another suicide. Another family broken, forever asking questions. If you're struggling, please speak to someone, anyone. Stay alive.'

Musician Myleene Klass added:  'Just heard about Nurse Jacintha Saldanha. My mum used to be a nurse.They work such long,hard hours. Poor lady must have been terrified. #RIP.'

The pair remarked during their Hot30 Countdown show how their efforts were the 'easiest prank call ever made'.

The duo have continued to boast about the gag on Twitter while in a video on the radio station's website they laugh and joke about it.

Greig giggles: 'They were the worst accents ever and when we made that phone call, we were sure 100 people at least before us would have tried the same thing.'

Sitting beside her in what appears to be their studio, Christian adds: 'We got through and now the entire world is talking.'

Meanwhile, a banner on the radio station's website continues to proclaims it to be the 'biggest royal prank ever'.

The pair, who only began hosting the nightly chart show earlier this year, were clearly delighted with the amount of publicity the gag had given them.

'The radio segment was done with lighthearted intentions. We wish Kate and her family all the best and we're glad to hear she's doing well.'

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) said it has received complaints about the gag.

A statement on its website said: 'The Australian Communications and Media Authority (the ACMA) has received complaints overnight regarding the 2Day FM prank call to the King Edward VII Hospital in London.

'Under the co-regulatory model, code complaints should first go to the licensee. If a complainant is dissatisfied with the response, then a complaint can be made to the ACMA.'

It is not the first time the radio station has got into trouble with the ACMA for its broadcasts.
In 2009 a 14-year-old girl was pushed into revealing she had been raped while attached to a lie detector live on air.

Joker: Michael Christian, who made a hoax call with fellow presenter Mel Greig to the King Edward VII hospital, is pictured posing as Luke Skywalker

Joker: Michael Christian, who made a hoax call with fellow presenter Mel Greig to the King Edward VII hospital, is pictured posing as Luke Skywalker

Earlier this year presenter Kyle Sandilands was found to have breached the decency provisions of the Commercial Radio Codes of Practice after he called a journalist 'a fat slag' and told her 'watch your mouth or I'll hunt you down' on his radio show.

Angry Twitter users called for Greig and Christian to lose their jobs over the incident.

One user, Alison Hassell, told Greig: 'If you have any kind of conscience or morals..... Right about now you should be typing your resignation.'

Scott Ashworth tweeted: 'You scumbag, hope you get what's coming to you!', while another user, Michael Hird, wrote: 'I hope you're happy now.. The receptionist you rang has COMMITTED SUICIDE! You have blood on your hands now!'

Greig also received what appeared to be threats on the social networking site.

Costas Loizou swore at the presenter and ended his message: 'I might start calling your mum and leaving messages..in fact expect one on xmas day....'

Other users directed abuse at her co-presenter Christian. Justine Daniel told him the hoax was a 'sick joke' and added: 'Hope you're banished from being on air forever.'

Peter Timmins wrote: 'There are no words to describe the disgust that everyone else is feeling about the prank you thought so funny.'

Sinead Gavaghan called him a 'vile, stupid creature' while Chris Campbell claimed: 'You should be fired and the station shut down.'

Both presenters later appeared to have closed down their Twitter accounts.

Greig landed the radio job after appearing on reality show The Amazing Race Australia, which pits teams of two in a race around the world.

She took part in the challenge last year with her younger sister, Alana Munday, after the pair had spent some years apart when Greig had left home at the age of 15.

In an interview with the Courier Mail last year, Greig said: 'I ran away from home.

'It was just a bit tough at home. I decided to leave. When you leave, you have to leave everything behind and cut it off.

'I never put Alana or my family first. I put my career and then a boyfriend first.'

According to the website of the talent agency that promotes Greig, the prank was 'a bit of fun and indicative of Mel's high energy, anything for a laugh, personality'.

Her profile reads: 'Mel started at 2Day FM, Sydney's number one hit music station, in early 2012 after five years experience in commercial radio and off the back of running her own radio school from her home town in Adelaide.

'Mel is well known and loved for her stint on The Amazing Race Australia in 2011 with sister Alana.

'She is also the consummate MC and has hosted everything from fashion events, modelling comps and award nights.'

HISTORY OF SICK PRANKS: THE RADIO STATION THAT FORCED TEENAGE GIRL TO CONFESS TO MOTHER SHE HAD BEEN RAPED WHEN SHE WAS 12

The radio station which duped the Duchess of Cambridge's nurse into revealing confidential information about her pregnancy has a history of on air scandal.

2day FM hit the headlines when presenters Mel Greig and Michael Christian impersonated the Queen and Prince Charles during a prank call to the private hospital which they broadcast to their listeners.

But now it has emerged that the Australian station been reprimanded in the past for incidents including when a 14-year-old girl was forced to reveal on air that she had been raped.

Scandal: The broadcaster was handed the first reprimand in 2009 after a 14-year-old girl was attached to a lie detector and pushed into revealing live on the The Kyle and Jackie O Show that she had been raped

Scandal: The broadcaster was handed the first reprimand in 2009 after a 14-year-old girl was attached to a lie detector and pushed into revealing live on the The Kyle and Jackie O Show that she had been raped

The station is already serving two five-year licence probations after serious breaches of the regulator's code.

The broadcaster was handed the first reprimand three years ago after a young teenager was pushed into revealing live on air that she had been raped as he mother listened.

The reluctant girl had been brought on the The Kyle and Jackie O Show by her mother who told the presenters she was worried about her daughter's use of drugs and partying.

The mother asked her daughter: 'Have you ever had sex?'

To which, she replied: 'I’ve already told you the story about this... and don’t look at me and smile because it’s not funny'.

After a pause, the girl added: 'Oh OK, I got raped when I was 12-years-old.'

Presenters: Mel Greig (left) and Michael Christian (right) were told that the Duchess was about to be 'freshened up', with a nurse saying: 'She's sleeping at the moment and she has had an uneventful night'

Presenters: Mel Greig and Michael Christian were told that the Duchess was about to be 'freshened up', with a nurse saying: 'She's sleeping at the moment and she has had an uneventful night'

Presenters Kyle Sandilands and Jackie O quickly dropped the lie detector test saying they were unaware of the rape.

After a public outcry, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) imposed a licence condition for five years ordering 2Day FM, owned by Southern Cross Austereo, to 'provide increased protection for children participating in hosted entertainment programs'.

Mr Sandilands then incurred the second licence condition after he called a female journalist a 'fat slag' live on air.

The journalist for New Limited made the complaint to the ACMA after she was verbally assaulted by the Breakfast DJ after she dared to to criticise his work.

He was reported as saying: ‘What a fat bitter thing you are, you deputy editor of an online thing. You've got a nothing job anyway. You're a piece of s**t," he said.


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By Staff 12/07/2012 08:21:00