The two Australian DJs who made the prank call to Kate Middleton’s hospital which appears to have led to the suicide of nurse Jacintha Saldanha on Friday have spoken for the first time since her death, giving a series of emotional interviews on Australian news channels, speaking of their devastation at the nurse’s suicide and the possibility they may have caused it.
Mel Greig said there was 'nothing that could make me feel worse than I feel now" and Michael Christian said he was, "shattered, gutted and heartbroken".
They spoke to Clare Brady on Channel 7's Today Tonight and Tracy Grimshaw on Channel 9's A Current Affair. Read a full transcript of their Channel 9 Interview here.
“I remember my first question was, 'Was she a mother?’ Ms Greig told Channel Seven. “I am very sorry and saddened for the family. I can’t imagine what they are going through ... I am just so devastated for them. I am really feeling for them. It was never meant to go that far. This wasn’t meant to happen.”
Describing his response, Mr Christian, the more composed of the two, said, said he was “shattered, gutted, heartbroken…We are still trying to get our heads round the situation. We could never have foreseen this happening from a prank call. It was never menat to go this far. I don’t think anyone could have predicted this outcome for the part that we have played we are incredibly sorry.
“No harm was intended on Jacintha or the other nurse or Kate or Prince William or anyone,” he said. “It was an incredibly tragic turn of events that no one could have predicted and for the part that we have played we are incredibly sorry.”
When the interviewer asked who at radio station 2DayFM had come up with the idea of making the call, Christian refused to identify any one individual and said it was the result of “a team meeting before the show.”
Mr Christian said, “The call wasn’t about trying to speak to Kate, or trying to get a scoop. It wasn’t about trying to get information. We just assumed we’d be hung up on and that was that. We just assumed we were going to get told off and that was the gag.”
Mel said: “The accents were stupid, the little corgis barking in the background it was always meant to be a joke. We thought a hundred people before us would have tried the same thing.”
“The joke 100 per cent was on us,” Mr Christian said. “The idea was never 'let’s call up and get through to Kate or speak to a nurse’. The joke was [that] our accents are horrible, they don’t sound anything like they are meant to be. There was no malice. It was not to dig.”
Ms Greig added: “The entertainment value was in us. It was meant to be us being silly and getting hung up on We wanted to be hung up on. We thought a hundred people before us would’ve tried it, we thought it was such a silly idea and the accents were terrible and not for a second did we expect to speak to Kate let alone have a conversation with anyone at the hospital.”
When asked if they felt there was a witch hunt against them, Greig dismissed the question, saying: “There is nothing that can make me feel worse than what I feel now. We are so sorry this has happened to them. How do you move on? We care more about the family.”
Asked if they had contacted the family, Greig said: “I don’t think its appropriate to contact the family but this is the time to say, ‘We are thinking of you, if we played any involvement in her death we are sorry for that.’”
Asked if there were lessons for the broadcasting community, Christian said: “Prank calls have been around as long as radio has existed. No-one could have foreseen this result.”
Mel Greig said that if the family wanted them to attend the inquest into Jacintha’s death they would attend. “If that’s something the family want us to do then we will do that, if they feel that would help them get some closure.”
The show has been cancelled and the station has pulled all advertising. Austereo's shares dropped 5% when the Australian stock market opened today.
Ben Willee, the general manager of Spinach advertising agency and a former media buyer, told the Sydney Morning Herald that 2Day FM would be losing about $150,000 each day. The advertising shutdown since Saturday afternoon - and which an Austereo spokewoman said will continue "indefinitely" - means the losses could top $1 million within a week.
The lucrative breakfast segment would pull in about $70,000 a day, while the rest of the time slots would bring in the remaining advertising revenue, Mr Willee said.