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Duchess of Cambridge phone hoax: No charge for DJs

Duchess of Cambridge leaves the hospital in December. Picture: AP

Duchess of Cambridge leaves the hospital in December. Picture: AP

  • by ELLEN BRANAGH
 

The Australian DJs behind a prank call to a hospital about the Duchess of Cambridge will not face charges in connection with the death of a nurse who took the call, prosecutors have said.

Jacintha Saldanha, a nurse at King Edward VII’s hospital in London, where Kate was being treated for a rare form of morning sickness, took the call from Mel Greig and Michael Christian in December.

She transferred the pair, who were posing as the Queen and Prince of Wales, to a colleague, who described Kate’s condition to them.

Ms Saldanha, 46, a mother of two from Bristol, was found dead in her nurses’ quarters three days later.

Her death sparked a worldwide backlash against the 2Day FM DJs, with some calling for them to be charged.

But yesterday, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said there was no evidence to support a manslaughter charge. Malcolm McHaffie, deputy head of special crime at the CPS, said, although misguided, the call was intended as a “harmless prank”.

Ms Saldanha’s family said they still had many questions about the events that led to her death.

Labour MP Keith Vaz, who has supported the family since her death, spoke to them after the announcement.

He said: “The family of Jacintha have been left devastated by her death. They are struggling to come to terms with the events that led to it, especially the hoax call. The family still have many unanswered questions and now await the inquest due to start on 26 March.”

Announcing the CPS decision, Mr McHaffie said there was no evidence to support a manslaughter charge and that any potential prosecution would not be in the public interest.

He said prosecutors had taken into account that it was not possible to extradite people from Australia on potential offences under the Data Protection Act 1998, the Malicious Communications Act 1988 and the Communications Act 2003.

He added: “The consequences in this case were very sad. We send our sincere condolences to Jacintha Saldanha’s family.”

The DJs’ radio show, the Hot 30 Countdown, has been cancelled by 2Day FM parent company Southern Cross Austereo and replaced by a new programme.

Southern Cross Austereo chief executive Rhys Holleran has said Christian and Greig will return to work “when the time is right”.

The pair spoke of their grief on Australian TV soon after Ms Saldanha’s death, saying their prank had prompted “a tragic turn of events no-one could have predicted or expected”.

 
 
 

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