Royal prank 'should never have aired'

MEGAN LEVY
Last updated 13:15 02/06/2014
Sydney Morning Herald

In a tearful interview, Aussie DJ Mel Greig shares the horrors of the last 18 months since the royal prank call.

Jacintha Saldanha
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TRAGIC END: Nurse Jacintha Saldanha was on the receiving end of a prank call from two Australian radio hosts.

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One of the Australian DJs behind the controversial ''royal prank'' phone call says feared for her life after the radio stunt made world headlines.

Mel Greig said she became depressed after the prank call the London hospital where Kate Middleton was being treated for severe morning sickness went to air, and her boyfriend was worried she'd try to hurt herself after news broke that one of the nurses on the call had died.

Jacintha Saldanha, the nurse who put through the call to the Duchess of Cambridge's ward after believing Greig was the Queen and her co-host, Michael Christian, was Prince Charles, died after the hoax made world headlines.

Saldanha left behind a note blaming the two Australian DJs for her death.

In an interview with Channel 7's Sunday Night, Greig said the backlash was so great that the couple were forced to remain holed up in her Sydney flat with a bodyguard.

She and her family received death threats, Greig said.

"They would ring my mum and say 'Eye for an eye. You need to die because she died'. So many horrible phone calls. Dad was rushed to hospital from the stress, and I thought, 'Great, now I've killed my dad too'," Greig said.

Grieg said just minutes after she recorded a conversation in 2012 she became concerned they could face severe consequences.

Greig said she immediately sent an email to her bosses urging them to disguise the identities of the nurses by replacing their voices with those of 2Day FM staff.

However her suggestion was dismissed and the decision was made to broadcast the segment without alteration, Sunday Night said.

"I absolutely expressed concern," Greig told Sunday Night of her reaction in the minutes after the phone call, and before it went to air.

"As an announcer, I'm trained that we always need to get permission if we're going to broadcast something and it just didn't seem right that we would broadcast that without permission and without doing what we would normally do as announcers, so I was absolutely concerned."

Greig's barrister, Tony Hurran, also said his client wanted the recording changed.

"She has been the scapegoat and the fall guy. The decision to broadcast was not hers," he said.

Greig also described the depth of her remorse, saying she felt like "the worst person alive".

"I think of the Saldanha family all the time, and I just want them to see that I'm sorry, because I care so much about Jacintha and what she did and what happened, and I'm so sorry," she said.

"I don't ever want to listen to it [the recording of the prank call] again, because I'm ashamed of myself. I should have tried harder not to let that prank call air. It never should have aired."

Greig was due to appear at the British inquest into the death of Saldanha, but the inquest has been delayed numerous times because the coroner is seeking more information.

Southern Cross Austereo has said previously that Greig wanted the recording changed, but had not provided any further details.

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"Prior to the call being broadcast, she made suggestions for changes to be made to the recording of the call," Austereo said in a statement last year.

"2Day FM decided that the call should be broadcast without alteration."

Greig resigned from 2Day FM in December last year. 

- Sydney Morning Herald

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