Radio board holds crisis talks on prank call tragedy

Radio board holds crisis talks on prank call tragedy

Radio board holds crisis talks on prank call tragedy

Updated 9 December 2012, 18:46 AEDT

The owners of the Sydney radio station behind a royal prank call have held emergency talks amid a growing backlash following the death of a London nurse who was caught up in the stunt.

The owners of Sydney radio station 2Day FM have held crisis talks over a royal prank call, amid a growing backlash following the death of a nurse who was caught up in the hoax.

Last week 2Day FM presenters Mel Greig and Michael Christian called a London hospital pretending to be the Queen and Prince Charles in an attempt to speak to the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge.

Nurse Jacintha Saldanha, 46, answered the call before transferring it through to the duty nurse responsible for Catherine, who divulged details of the royal's acute morning sickness.

Ms Saldanha was later found dead in her apartment after an apparent suicide.

Southern Cross Austereo confirmed its board of directors met on Sunday to discuss the call.

The outcome of the meeting is unknown.

The emergency talks came after the hospital targeted in the prank made an official complaint to Austereo's chairman, condemning the stunt as "truly appalling".

Hospital chairman Lord Simon Glenarthur said the prank resulted in the "humiliation of two dedicated and caring nurses who were simply doing their job tending to their patients".

"King Edward VII's Hospital cares for sick people, and it was extremely foolish of your presenters even to consider trying to lie their way through to one of our patients, let alone actually make the call," he said in a letter to Austereo.

"Then to discover that, not only had this happened, but that the call had been pre-recorded and the decision to transmit approved by your station's management, was truly appalling."

The hospital says it wants to ensure that such a tragedy never happens again.

Ms Saldanha reportedly came from India and had two children.

"We as a family are deeply saddened by the loss of our beloved Jacintha," her family said in a statement.

In a message posted on his Facebook page, her husband Benedict Barboza reportedly wrote: "I am devastated with the tragic loss of my beloved wife Jacintha in tragic circumstances, She will be laid to rest in Shirva, India."

Prince William and Catherine have said they were "deeply saddened" by Ms Saldanha's death and Prime Minister Julia Gillard said it was a "terrible tragedy".

Ms Saldanha's death has sparked global outrage directed towards the radio station and the presenters.

Southern Cross Austereo chief executive Rhys Holleran fronted a press conference in Sydney on Saturday and expressed "deep sorrow" at the nurse's death.

Mr Holleran said he was confident the stunt had not broken any laws, but the station later moved to suspend all advertising until at least Monday.

He said the two presenters had been pull off the air and would "not return until further notice".

Mr Holleran said the pair had been left "shattered" by the nurse's death and had been offered counselling.

"These people aren't machines, they're human beings. We're all affected by this," he said.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority confirmed it had received complaints about the hoax, which chairman Chris Chapman said will be investigated.

Tributes to Ms Saldanha were placed outside the nurses' accommodation block where her body was discovered on Friday.

A wooden cross with a British flag was left outside the hospital on Saturday, while flowers were placed outside the nearby nurses' block.

Attached to the red, white and blue flowers, a note read: "Dear Jacintha, our thoughts are with you and your family. From all your fellow nurses, we bless your soul. God bless."

Scotland Yard police headquarters said a post-mortem would take place next week.

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