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Radio personalities apologize for prank call to duchess's hospital

Monday, December 10, 2012 - 10:00am

The two Australian radio personalities who made the prank phone call to a British hospital where the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge was admitted expressed deep remorse Monday for making the call, which led to the apparent suicide of a nurse who spoke to the pair.

Mel Greig and Michael Christian, both struggling to hold back tears, told two Australian television shows Monday that their thoughts are with the family of Jacintha Saldanha, the 46-year-old nurse who put the prank call through to the ward where the duchess was.

Saldanha apparently committed suicide Friday.

"I'm very sorry and saddened for the family, and I can't imagine what they've been going through," Greig said on the program "Today Tonight."

Christian described himself as "gutted, shattered and heartbroken."

"For the part we played, we're incredibly sorry," Christian told "Today Tonight."

The pair said the idea for the call came out of a production meeting before their 2DayFM show, the idea being to capitalize on what was the hottest topic in the news, Catherine's pregnancy.

Both stressed that while they made the call to King Edward VII Hospital, they did not have a say on whether it went to air. The call was recorded and then went through a vetting process at their network, Southern Cross Austereo, before it was broadcast, they said.

"This was put through every filter that everything is put through before it makes it to air," Christian said in an interview with the program "A Current Affair."

But Christian said he did not know what that vetting process entailed.

"I'm certainly not aware of what filters it needs to pass through," he said.

"Our role is just to record and get the audio," Christian told "A Current Affair."

Greig and Christian said they never expected the prank call to be successful.

Posing as Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles, the pair said they thought their bad accents would give them away and they'd be hung up on by whoever answered the phone at the hospital.

"We wanted to be hung up on with our silly voices," Greig said.

"We assumed that we'd be hung up on, and that would be that," Christian said.

But they were put through to the duchess's ward and given details of her medical condition.

"It was never meant to go that far. It was meant to be a silly little prank that so many people have done before," Greig said.

It was Saldanha who put the call through.

"If we played any involvement in her death, then we're very sorry for that," said Greig, who described how she found out about Saldana's apparent suicide.

"It's the worst phone call I've had in my life," she said, fighting tears.

"There's not a minute that goes by that we don't think about her family and what they must be going through, and the thought that we may have played a part in that is gut-wrenching," Greig said.

The pair have been taken off the air by their network, which has not said when they might return.

"I don't even want to think about going back on air, to be honest," Greig said.

"I'm still trying to make sense of it all," Christian said. "We're shattered. We're people, too."

Greig said she'd willingly face Saldanha's family if it would help bring them closure.

"If that's gonna make them feel better, then I'll do what I have to do," she said.

"I've thought about this a million times in my head, that I've wanted to just reach out to them and just give them a big hug and say sorry," Greig said. "I hope they're OK, I really do."
 

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