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Emotional Australian DJs talk about tragedy of Kate prank call

Michael Christian and Mel Greig apologised to Jacintha Saldanha’s family and said they were ‘shattered, gutted and heartbroken’.

Image: (AP Photo/Channel Nine) via Nine Network

THE TWO RADIO DJs behind the viral prank call to the London hospital where Kate Middleton was receiving treatment last week have apologised to the family of a nurse who died by apparent suicide following the incident.

Mel Greig and Michael Christian, who were taken off the air in the aftermath of the hoax call, gave an emotional interview to the Nine Network’s A Current Affair yesterday.

Breaking down in tears, Christian said they were both “shattered, gutted and heartbroken” about the nurse’s death.

“Our deepest sympathies are with the family and friends, and all those affected. Mel and myself are incredibly sorry for the situation and what’s happened. We hope they are doing OK and get the love and support they need right now.”

“There’s not a minute that goes by that we don’t think of her family and what they must be going through,” added Greig. “The thought that we may have played a part in that is gut-wrenching.”

Both presenters said that nobody could have foreseen or predicted the outcome of the show’s decision to make the call.

“The phone call itself…there was no malice on our behalf,” said Christian. “It wasn’t to agitate, or to offend or to dig at all. It was…the joke was our accent. We just assumed that the same phone call was made 100 times that morning.”

Asked whether the call should have been aired, the pair distanced themselves from the decision-making process, stating it was taken out of their hands.

“We did everything we normally do when we make those prank calls,” explained Greig. “We didn’t have that discussion. We just handed it to them and they had the discussion. I don’t know the process. There’s a whole team of people who work with us.”

“People far above us [make those decisions],” continued Christian. “We’re not privy to what happens. This call was no different to anything else. It’s the same process. I’m not aware of the filters. It’s passed on and we’re told yay or nay.”

Greig told A Current Affair that she does not want to “even think about going back on air”. Christian added that they were still trying to get their heads around the situation and it was “too early to tell” what would happen.

The call, which heard Greig and Christian posing as Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles, sparked outrage across the world after the 46-year-old nurse and mother-of-two was found dead. She had taken the initial call and, as there was no receptionist on duty in the early morning, she put them through to a colleague who divulged details of the Duchess’s condition.

The broadcasting company, which owns 2Day FM, has now suspended all prank calls across its networks. However, chief executive Rhys Holleran has said he was satisfied that the appropriate checks were conducted before the pre-recorded segment was broadcast. The stunt was also vetted by lawyers.

In a statement to the Australian stock exchange, Southern Cross Austereo confirmed it was also suspending advertising across 2Day FM and Greig and Christian’s Hot 30 show.

According to the company, “several attempts were made by the production team to discuss the segment with the hospital, but with no success”.

Holleran said a “detailed and rigorous review” of its policies and procedures will now be undertaken.

More: Australian radio station reviewing policy after nurse’s death following hoax call

Watch: the ACA interview with Michael Christian and Mel Greig>

Download: the full statement from Southern Cross Austereo>

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