The two Australian radio hosts behind a prank call gone royally awry may not face legal action after all.
According to a Friday report by the Daily Telegraph, the deputy police commissioner in Sydney 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. The commissioner 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,” Commissioner 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 Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, was being treated for severe morning sickness. The hosts put on a phony English accent and pretended to be Queen Elizabeth 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 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 2011.
As IBTimes noted earlier 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 the BBC, Scotland Yard submitted a file on the incident to the U.K.’s Crown Prosecution Service on Dec. 19, which as of Friday was still under consideration.
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