Australian radio DJs will not be prosecuted over hospital hoax call

Nurse who took call at hospital where Duchess of Cambridge was being treated for severe morning sickness later killed herself

The two Australian radio presenters who made a hoax phone call to the London hospital where the Duchess of Cambridge was being treated will not be prosecuted.

Bringing charges against Mel Greig and Michael Christian for their "prank" last December would not be in the public interest, the Crown Prosecution Service has concluded.

A family picture of Jacintha Saldanha
Jacintha Saldanha. Photograph: Public Domain

The nurse who took the call at the King Edward VII hospital later took her own life, triggering an international furore. There was no evidence, however, of manslaughter, the CPS said.

Malcolm McHaffie, deputy head of special crime at the CPS, said: "As is well known, on 4 December 2012, Mel Greig and Michael Christian, both radio presenters in Australia, made a telephone call to the King Edward VII hospital in London, where the Duchess of Cambridge was receiving treatment, in which they pretended to be members of the royal family.

"During the course of the call, private information about the duchess's health was given, in good faith, to Ms Greig and Mr Christian and the call was later played on a radio station in Australia.

"Subsequently, Jacintha Saldanha, a nurse at the hospital who had initially taken the call but who had not herself passed on the information, tragically took her own life."

Duchess of Cambridge
Duchess of Cambridge. Photograph: Getty Images Photograph: Getty Images

He added: "Having carefully reviewed the evidence currently available we have concluded that there is no evidence to support a charge of manslaughter and that although there is some evidence to warrant further investigation of offences under the Data Protection Act 1998, the Malicious Communications Act 1988 and the Communications Act 2003, no further investigation is required because any potential prosecution would not be in the public interest."

Among the issues taken into consideration, the CPS said, was the fact that it would not possible to extradite the radio presenters from Australia in respect of the potential communication offences.

"However misguided," McHaffie added, "the telephone call was intended as a harmless prank. The consequences in this case were very sad. We send our sincere condolences to Jacintha Saldanha's family."

Contributor

Owen Bowcott, legal affairs correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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