Royal hoax DJ ‘truly sorry’

Australian radio DJ Mel Greig leaves the Royal Courts of Justice in London. Picture: PA
Australian radio DJ Mel Greig leaves the Royal Courts of Justice in London. Picture: PA
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A DJ who made a hoax call to a hospital caring for the Duchess of Cambridge broke down in tears as she apologised to the family of a nurse from Bristol who committed suicide after it was broadcast.

Australian Melanie Greig posed as the Queen during the call in which private medical information about pregnant Kate was disclosed in December 2012.

Jacintha Saldanha, 46, who took the call, hanged herself three days later as the prank made global headlines.

Ms Greig sobbed as she addressed the mother-of-two’s family yesterday after an inquest at Westminster Coroners’ Court ruled her death was suicide. She told them and the packed courtroom: “I really just wanted to say I am truly sorry, I’ve wanted to say that for so long.

“This tragedy will always stay with me and serve as a constant reminder. To the second nurse involved, I am deeply sorry for what you had to ­endure. I pray you have found the strength to live on as best you can.

“I was always concerned about the wellbeing of both nurses and I wish I’d tried harder to stop that prank being aired.”

She went on to urge hospitals and the media to learn from the incident and make sure it was not repeated.

“To fellow ­announcers and DJs, I urge you to speak up if you don’t feel comfortable and consider the feelings of others when trying to make a joke. The joke should ­always be on us, the DJs.”

Indian-born Mrs Saldanha was found dead in nursing ­accommodation on 7 December, 2012, after Greig and fellow DJ Michael Christian broadcast the call on Sydney’s 2Day FM on

4 December.

Mrs Saldanha answered the phone to the DJs and, believing it was from the Queen, put them through to a nurse who revealed details of Kate’s ­condition.

The royal was being treated at the King Edward VII’s Hospital in London for a form of severe morning sickness.

But the two-day inquest at the High Court heard that she held herself responsible for the mistake, despite the private hospital’s management supporting her and the other nurse as victims of a cruel joke.

Management described her as robust and resilient professional who gave no indication she was not coping with the furore.

Leicester MP Keith Vaz, speaking outside on behalf of Mrs Saldanha’s family, said: “Over the last two days, the family and the world have heard about her nobility, her dedication to her patients, her love of her job and her fantastic professionalism.

“The family of course accept the verdict of the coroner’s court today. It is an irony that four calls made in 115 seconds, which were the cause of so much mirth in Australia, could have deprived Benedict [Barboza, her widower] of his wife and Lisha and Junal of their beloved mother. These despicable and cruel actions changed their lives forever.”

Son Junal thanked friends and family in their home city of Bristol and “everyone in Britain and around the world who has supported us through this difficult time in our lives”.

He said: “My dad, my sister and myself miss our beloved mum every day and will do so for the rest of our lives.”