The two Australian radio hosts behind a prank call gone royally awry may not face legal action after all.
The deputy police commissioner in New South Wales said he believed that the DJs would not be prosecuted by Scotland Yard for a radio stunt that may have prompted the suicide of a London-based nurse, according to the Daily Telegraph in Sydney. The police official based his supposition on the fact that British authorities have not asked for further information on the incident, nor have they asked to question the duo.
“There was some initial contact after [the nurse’s] death, but not a lot since,” Nick Kaldas told the Telegraph. “And because of the passage of time, we believe it is unlikely any charges will be laid.”
On Dec. 4, Mel Greig and Michael Christian called London’s King Edward VII Hospital, where the pregnant Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, aka Kate Middleton, was being treated for severe morning sickness. The hosts put on a phony English accent and pretended to be Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles. Much to their surprise, the nurse on duty, Jacintha Saldanha, put them through to a nurse, who provided details about Middleton’s condition.
Police later found Saldanha dead of an apparent suicide. Her family said she was humiliated by the widely reported incident. Last week, however, the Indian Express in New Delhi reported that Saldanha had made two prior suicide attempts and was admitted to a hospital in the Indian city of Mangalore for a depressive disorder in December of last year.
As IBTimes noted this month, some legal experts believe the radio hosts may have broken multiple laws with the prank, including a provision in the U.K.’s Data Protection Act that prohibits anyone from obtaining or disclosing personal records. Penalties include a fine of up to $6,464 each. The radio station 2Day FM, where the hosts worked, could also be held liable for airing the segment without the nurse’s permission. The station has a reputation in Australia for outlandish on-air stunts.
Greig and Christian were suspended indefinitely following Saldanha’s suicide and the ensuing backlash. Both hosts have expressed severe remorse over the incident, even breaking down in tears on an Australian talk show.
The pranksters may not be completely out of the woods, however. According to BBC News, Scotland Yard submitted a file on the incident to the U.K.’s Crown Prosecution Service on Dec. 19, which was still under consideration as of Friday.